Tammy Grimes

Metropolitan Room; Mon 22–Wed 24

Tammy Grimes has always been one of a kind: authentically mannered, indomitably fey, with a voice that is part gravel and part sparkler, as though she were hungover from an all-night bender on pixie dust. A protégée of Noël Coward’s, she was special—too special for Hollywood. (Her 1966 sitcom, The Tammy Grimes Show, lasted just a month.) But she vaulted to Broadway fame in 1960 and stayed there for two decades, winning Tony Awards for The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Private Lives.

At 74, Grimes is no longer the sylph who peered out, kohl-eyed, from behind the upturned collar of a leather jacket on the back of her 1962 debut album on Columbia—her body leaning back into a sleek comma, like Edward Gorey’s idea of a biker. In her memorable return to nightclub singing last year at the Metropolitan Room (a set she reprises this week), her pitch sometimes wobbled. But Grimes’s interpretive skills remain utterly enchanting: Whether in comic numbers (“Home Sweet Heaven”) or touching ones (Coward’s “If Love Were All”), she invigorates familiar songs with the sheer power of her unique personality. Watching her perform is like rereading a chapter of theater history and catching new details. As she sings in her opening number: “I’ve got no future, but oh, what a past!” What a past, and what a present she offers here.