Rita Hayworth once lamented the fact that the men in her life longed to go to bed with Gilda but woke up with Rita Hayworth, the real Rita Hayworth as opposed to the sex goddess she played to perfection in the 1946 film noir classic Gilda. One can understand Hayworth's frustration; Gilda was, after all, only a character, and the real, off-screen Hayworth was a far cry from the extroverts she played on the screen. Hayworth's life is the focus of this swing/cabaret release, which was recorded at Don't Tell Mama in New York in 1998 and documents Quinn Lemley's portrayal of Hayworth in the one-woman musical The Heat Is On! Looking back on Hayworth's life, Lemley performs songs associated with the late actress, which is quite ironic when you consider that Hayworth didn't really sing in her movies. When you saw Hayworth moving her lips to "Put The Blame on Mame" in Gilda or "The Heat Is On" in Miss Sadie Thompson, you were actually hearing another woman's voice. But Lemley, unlike Hayworth, is very much a singer, and her affection for Hayworth's characters is hard to miss on songs that include "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" from 1948's Pal Joey, "Amado Mio" from Gilda, and "Long Ago and Far Away" from 1944's Cover Girl. Lemley obviously loves the glamour that Hayworth brought to the silver screen in the 1940s and 1950s; in fact, the red-haired, very attractive Lemley looks a lot like her idol. But the musical that this album documents is based on Hayworth's life in general, not just the sex goddesses she portrayed in her films. So while Lemley loves Hayworth's on-screen image, she realizes that it is only an image. Nonetheless, it's an image that she has a great deal of fun with on this entertaining and humorous CD.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson