I Want to Live!, about Barbara Graham, the third woman to be executed in California, Nellie McKay brings us her latest revue-with-dialogue, A Girl Named Bill — The Life and Times of Billy Tipton. Jazz pianist/bandleader Tipton was born Dorothy and passed as a man until her death. McKay has written new songs and also interprets Jelly Roll Morton, Yoko Ono and Hoagy Carmichael as she transforms from a young Dorothy to a spiffy Billy. Backed by a tip-top band — Alexi David on bass, Cary Park on guitar, Kenneth Salters on drums — who playfully question their leader’s gender, A Girl Named Bill is further proof that the witty, adorable and astonishingly talented McKay is an artist eager to explore musical avenues. And who else rhymes “Attila the Hun” with “cinnamon bun”?
Coming after her musical