By William Wolf

CONSTANT HONORS AZNAVOUR  Send This Review to a Friend

Renowned singer, lyricist, actor and French icon Charles Aznavour died in France in October, 2018 at the age of 94, but after the initial obituaries, he was not properly honored in the New York cabaret world. Chanteuse Yvonne Constant has stepped into the breach at Don’t Tell Mama with her affectionate tribute titled “Aznavour as is. ” Two performances have already occurred on January 17th and 25th, and there is another that one can still catch at 7 p.m. on January 31st.

Joining in the program dedicated to the Aznavour is Russ Kassoff, Constant’s pianist and musical director, with whom she has had a working relationship over many years. There is a logical connection in the show, as Constant knew and admired Aznavour, who was championed by her as he worked to achieve his illustrious career. The tone of the performance is primarily intimate and chatty, with information dispensed along with the music.

In the course of remarks Constant makes, she recalls how Johnny Carson, who repeatedly booked Constant on his show in the years after she performed on Broadway in “La Plume de Ma Tante,” didn’t know who Aznavour was when he visited the U.S. and asked Constant about him. She responded with a briefing and recommendation.

As for Kassoff, he had occasion to work with Aznavour, as reflected in a projected photograph. He was a pianist and musical director for Aznavour on various occasions, the last in 1999 at the opening of the Hotel Paris Las Vegas when he conducted and played for Aznavour, with accompaniment by Michel Legrand and a full orchestra. Kassoff gets a spot in the program to talk about Aznavour, emphasized with playing different numbers on different nights.

Constant begins her tribute with an array of images reflecting Aznavour’s extraordinary life and career. He has been credited with writing more than 1200 songs, and recording more than 1000. Her program highlights numbers in some way associated with him, both in French and English. She does this in an informal manner, and on the night I attended (January. 25) let the capacity audience in on the cabaret notables attending, introducing KT Sullivan, Mark Nadler, Steve Ross and Richard Holbrook.

Constant selects and sings numerous songs for which Aznavour wrote music or lyrics or both. Her opening number is “Emmenez Moi” (music and lyrics by Aznavour). She also sings “You’ve Let Yourself Go” (Music by Aznavour, English lyrics by Fred Ebb). She puts special feeling into “Que c’est triste Venise” (music by Aznavour), lyrics by Francoise Durin).

Constant is best when she sings with force, as with “La Boheme” (music by Aznavour, lyrics by Jacques Plante), and with her encore number, “Yesterday When I Was Young” (music and French lyrics by Aznavour, English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer).

Although the emphasis is on Aznavour’s work, it was deemed fitting for Constant to sing a few non-Aznavour numbers to further capture the spirit of French hits known to international audiences. In that spirit, Constant sings “Non, je ne regrette rien” and “Milord,” both associated with Edith Piaf. At Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street. Phone: 212-575-0788. Reviewed January 27, 2019.

ADRIENNE HAAN SINGS BERLIN  Send This Review to a Friend

International cabaret artist Adrienne Haan has demonstrated her skill with a repertoire that has included songs of the Weimar Republic in Germany and popular French classics. In her latest show at the Triad in New York ( December 7 and 10) she goes very American in her salute to the music and lyrics of Irving Berlin in her program called “White Christmas at the Triad” and flashes her skill in interpreting the hits of America’s most prolific composer.

She has a strong accomplice—Richard Danley, her longtime associate as musical director and pianist. They work ever-so smoothly together, whether Danley is superbly complementing her on the keyboard or on occasion joining in the vocals.

As usual, Haan, a favorite entertainer of mine, lights up the room--it was packed on the opening night when I attended-- with her effervescent personality and ability to connect with her audience, whether by strolling among the spectators or connecting with her crystal clear delivery of lyrics.

Haan ranges over an array of hits by Berlin, interspersed with comments from a script written by Laurence Pierron that recalls his history as the Jewish immigrant from Russia who came to write such iconic songs as “White Christmas” and “God Bless America,” both of which Haan sings with panache.

She opens with a zesty “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from the 1946 Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun” and proceeds to highlight different sides to Berlin’s accomplishments. For example, he wrote a number stressing America’s welcoming of immigrants, “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor” from the 1949 musical “Miss Liberty.” (Nostalgia in the age of Trump?)

Haan puts zing into Berlin’s 1977 “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” She reflects the contributions Berlin made to Hollywood musicals and Broadway with a medley of “Blue Skies,” “They Say It’s Wonderful,” “Cheek to Cheek” and “I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning.”

In 1926 on the wedding day of Berlin’s marriage to Ellin McKay, he wanted to present her with a musical gift. He gave her “Always,” a beautiful love song that Haan sings emotionally as if she were the giver.

Haan also dipped into songs Berlin wrote with a nod to the military—“This is the Army Mr. Jones” and “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.” Very funny is the odd “I Paid My Income Tax Today.”

Haan’s excavation into the treasure trove provided by Berlin has been produced by Peter Martin. At the Triad, 158 West 72nd Street. Reviewed December 9, 2018.

ADRIENNE HAAN AND BIG BAND GIVE ROUSING SHOW TO ENTHUSIASTIC CROWD AT JOE'S PUB  Send This Review to a Friend

I have watched Adrienne Haan perform in various venues, but last night (October 17, 2018) she illuminated Joe’s Pub with a spectacular, larger-than-life performance that wowed an enthusiastic crowd. It was an extra dynamic show, with Haan backed by the excellent big band, Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, consisting of 11 musicians for the occasion, and Haan’s long-time colleague, pianist Richard Danley, as musical director. Haan is an entertainer who can thrive in tandem with a huge sound, and she proved that the combination is potent.

The theme of her show—Haan is fond of choosing themes—was “Voluptuous Weimer—A Tribute to Berlin’s Golden Age.” The singer grew up in Germany, so she is well-versed in the country’s musical history. She sang in a mix of German and English, providing translation when needed.

Haan was a knockout in a clinging and sparkling red mini with fringe, and uninhibited on stage, she moves seductively as she shakes and shimmies to the rhythms. She has the flair of an actress, with an array of expressions that accent her lively eyes, and of course, there is the quality voice that she can apply to a wide range of songs.

Her program highlighted numbers that were popular in the days of the Weimer Republic that came on the heels of the end of World War I. Cynicism was there in “It’s All a Swindle.” Saucy sensuality was projected in “Sex Appeal.” The popular film “The Blue Angel” yielded “They Call Me Naughty Lola,” and “Falling in Love Again,” and Haan made the most of them. She also turned on the sensuality with appropriate body language as she sang “ I am a Vamp.”

Haan sang what she said was popular among women of the period--“Johnny.” She also noted that American songs were catching attention, and as examples she sang Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” and “Cheek to Cheek,” plus Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,” demonstrating that she could be impressive with American songbook numbers as well as those rooted in Germany.

According to Haan, although under the Nazis American popular music was looked upon as decadent, young people gathered secretly to dance to the songs that they admired. Thus she launched into the example of “Sing Sing Sing” as adapted by Benny Goodman. The Nighthawks tore loose on that one, making Joe’s Pub jump as Haan sang, band members soloed, and Haan enthusiastically introduced musicians who stood out. She gives the impression of rooting for her musicians and makes a point of giving them enthusiastic introductions.

Other numbers in Haan’s repertoire included “Bei Mir Bistu Schein” in a tribute to the Andrews Sisters. The program included the romantic “These Foolish Things” and the lively “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” For her encore, she noted the importance of getting along together in the world today, and sang what she called an anthem of the European Union, “Lili Marleen.”

Haan holds a unique position as a classic chanteuse with modern trimmings. She comes on like a whirlwind, never lets up and has an ability to connect with an audience. When she strolls through the crowd singling out men or women to cozy up to, she is engaging rather than crass.

The Joe’s Pub show proved that she has the power to sing with a big band behind her and still stand out. Maybe it’s the band that needs the power to stand out along with her singing. At Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street. Reviewed October 18, 2018.

STUNNING ARRAY OF TALENT HIGHLIGHTS 29TH ANNUAL NEW YORK CABARET CONVENTION  Send This Review to a Friend

For four consecutive nights (October 9-12, 2018) the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s 29th annual New York Cabaret Convention, showcased an impressive lineup of talent, a mix of icons of the cabaret world and newcomers deserving to become stars. The plentiful talent stands in contrast to the limited performing venues available and makes one long for more opportunities.

I attended both the opening and closing nights and thrilled to many of the performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall. The opening night was dubbed “Cabaret Today!” Closing night was subtitled “The Night They Invented Champagne: The Lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner,” with Lerner numbers filling the entire bill.

KT Sullivan, noted cabaret artist, elegantly dressed, including wearing one of her colorful trademark hats, hosted opening night, and of course also sang, giving an exquisite rendition of “All the Things You Are.” But the evening’s opening numbers were by the renowned mother-son team. Pianist Bill Charlap played “Tea for Two,” and then introduced his mother, Sandy Stewart, still in fine voice with “Remind Me” and “After You.”

One of my favorite cabaret artists is Carole J. Bufford, who always looks great on stage and has a gift for interpreting lyrics with flair. She gave a sexy, defiant performance of “All By Myself,” and also teamed with Eric Yves Garcia in a medley of “Come Dance With Me,” “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “Sway.” Garcia impressed with what he called a Bobby Short medley in tribute to the late star.

Other standouts included Danny Bacher exuberantly singing “Hooray for Hollywood;” Todd Murray showing leading man quality with the demanding “Some Enchanted Evening” and “This Nearly Was Mine;” Dawn Derow making “White Cliffs of Dover” newly fresh; Karen Oberlin excellently singing “No More;” Marissa Mulder impressively performing “Love;” Corinna Sowers Adler soaring with the challenging “Glitter and Be Gay,"`1 and Anna Bergman and Todd Murray teaming delightfully on “So In Love.”

Among others distinguishing the program were Gregory Generet, Dorian Woodruff, Meg Flather, Joie Bianco, Gustavo Palma, Paula Dione Ingram, Marcus Lovett. David Baida, Nancy McGraw, and Jaedyn Hanna. Piano accompanists for the various acts included Alex Rybeck, Jon Weber, James Horan, Tracy Stark, Ian Herman, and Mark Nadler. Band members included Steve Doyle on bass and Rob Garcia on drums.

The closing night turned out to be a special dazzler. It was co-hosted by stars Andrea Marcovicci and Jeff Harnar, who turned out to be model hosts. They introduced performers with enthusiasm and clarity, and, naturally, also performed. Together they sang “You’re All the World to Me,” “I Remember It Well,” and “The Night They Invented Champagne.” Marcovicci soloed with “Mr. Right” and Harner soloed with “Come Back to Me.” But before the hosts took over, Stearns Matthews got the show underway with a superb rendition of “On a Clear Day.”

If one were to award a show-stealer prize for the night, it would have to go to Mark Nadler, flamboyant as always. Nadler mentioned that Alan Jay Lerner was intensely political and always a Democrat (audience applause here). Nadler then provided the night’s wittiest line: “If Lerner were alive today he’d be glad he was dead.”

Nadler told of an unfinished work on which Lerner was collaborating with Burton Lane—a musical version of the film “My Man Godfrey.” Then, according to the setting of down-and-outs, Nadler played the piano and sang “Garbage,” including the lyric “Garbage isn’t what it used to be.” And Nadler even tap-danced.

Competing in the show-stealing department was the venerable Sidney Myer, who gave an introduction in his typically wry, devil-may-care, sophisticated, above-it all manner before singing sarcastically, “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore.”

Long favorites of mine, the ever-delightful married team of pianist-singer Eric Comstock and vocalist Barbara Fasano made a substantial contribution with “Another Autumn,” “Too Late Now,” “She Wasn’t You,” and “Lusty Month of May.” Another favorite, Anita Gillette, applying the called for cockney accent, served up a colorful and sassy “Just You Wait Henry Higgins.” Penny Fuller, who often performs with Gillette, soloed with a poignant “There’s Always One You Can’t Forget.”

Pianist-singer Steve Ross, who holds an exalted position in the international cabaret sphere, delicately performed the sensitive “Heather on the Hill,” and then Shana Farr, who won this year’s Donald Smith Award established to honor the founder of the cabaret convention, teamed with Ross for “From This Day On.” Farr added a spirited rendition of “Show Me,” with Ross continuing at the piano. Ever elegant Karen Akers treated the crowd with “Here I’ll Stay.” Richard Holbrook added a dash of humor with his rapid “How Could You Believe Me.”

One special highlight was hearing Joshua Lance Dixon and Stearns Matthews affectionately and touchingly sing the meaningful plea “Why Can’t They Leave Us Alone.” Dixon also sang “I Could Have Danced All Night,” usually reserved for the female star of “My Fair Lady.”

And accustomed to hearing a man sing the “My Fair Lady” number “I’m Getting Married in the Morning,” as in the show, I was delighted to hear the way Sally Mayes tore into the song in her dynamic version. There was also a high-energy closer to the show—and the convention—contributed by Marta Sanders, who sang “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?" with the power that I had never heard applied to it before. Then the entire company appeared on stage to “The Night they Invented Champagne.”

Other pleasers in the final program included Tammy McCann singing “Almost Like Being in Love,” Gabrielle Stravelli doing “On the Street Where You Live,” Iris Williams singing “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face,” Leanne Borghesi snappily delivering the anti-male rebuke “No Man is Worth It,” and Barbara Brussell soaring with “If Ever I Would Leave You.” Among those providing piano accompaniment were James Horan, Alex Rybeck, Tom Nelson, Art Weiss, Brandon Adams, David Gaines, Paul Greenwood, and Tracy Stark. Band members included Jered Egan on bass and Dan Gross on drums.

Keep in mind the above comments related only to the two nights I attended. Add all of the artists on stage for the October 10 and 11 extravaganzas, and you get an idea of the enormous amount of cabaret talent available these days. At Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center. Reviewed October 14, 2018.

ISAAC SUTTON AND GUEST STARS DYNAMIC IN ENTERTAINING AND CLEVER 'BROADWAY ISRAEL' SHOW  Send This Review to a Friend

Charismatic Isaac Sutton, who grew up in Israel and combines that background with Broadway show biz, returned to Feinstein’s/54 Below supper club last night (September 29, 2018). He is a charming performer with an excellent bass-baritone voice, and he likes to spice some of his songs by singing portions in Hebrew. He also is a savvy showman who enjoys inviting women guest stars to join him in amusing and exhilarating duets as well a giving them a chance to solo.

Women in the audience especially adore Sutton and he gets them to sing along in some numbers and charms them when he roams the room and sings directly to a few especially enthusiastic followers. He is generous in lauding his musicians by pronouncing their names loudly and clearly in introducing them more than once.

Sutton, looking sharp in his white jacket and black shirt, showed his vocal chops soloing in such disparate numbers as the pop “Come Fly With Me;” “Sway’ (in both Hebrew and English); a medley of “Fiddler on the Roof” classics “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were a Rich Man” and “To Life,” and also the demanding “Man of La Mancha.”

The program gained added power when Sutton interacted with superb singer-actresses DeLaney Westfall and Rachel Gold. With Westfall he teamed in “Let Me Be Your Star” from NBC’s “Smash.” They had fun with an arrangement of the title song from “Hello, Dolly!” and, in another duet, “The Rain In Spain” from “My Fair Lady,” but gave it a special twist in Hebrew. Westfall (“Sweeny Todd,” “Kinky Boots,” “Beautiful”) oozed Broadway show biz know-how and sex appeal as she and Sutton had a ball with the competitive “Anything You Can Do” from “Annie Get Your Gun.” Westfall can sure hit her high notes.

Rachel Gold, a superb soprano, brought her own quality to the show as she sang “All I Ask of You” from “The Phantom of the Opera,” in which she has appeared, and also the title song from that long-running musical. Sutton demonstrated how well he can handle voice-challenging demands in teaming with Gold on both those selections. They also ignited sparks with “Climb Every Mountain” from “The Sound of Music” and “Somewhere” from “Westside Story.”

Sutton showed his Israeli affinity via various comments, and also musically when, in addition to his previous Hebrew translations, he sang the Hebrew “Le’Chayey Ha’Am Haze” from the Israeli show “I Like Mike.” In all, the program was an uplifting excursion into the art of cabaret and provided a fun-filled evening of entertainment expertise.

The excellent musicians were Dan Pardo, pianist and musical director, Greg Orlando on double bass, and Brandon McClaskey on drums. At Feinstein’s/54 Below, 254 West 54th Street. Phone: 646-476-3551. Reviewed September 30, 2018.

BOB O'HARE SINGS WITH FEELING ABOUT LOVE  Send This Review to a Friend

In his show titled “Unfinished Business—A Love Story,” Bob O’Hare got swiftly down to his subject in his performance on April 27, 2018 at Don’t Tell Mama following a previous gig on April 15. No nonsense! In his refreshingly direct manner, he said the program would be about love past, present and future, and he proceeded to show what a fine singer he is with his very first number, the unusual, “No Mary Ann,” with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

O’Hare has an appealing voice, solid enunciation of lyrics and gets to the root of the songs he selects in a forthright manner. He has a feeling for the meaning of a song, and not trying for special jazz or pop effects, his approach is strictly to communicate what his songs are about.

He charmed with “I Met a Girl” from the show “The Bells Are Ringing” (music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) and “Have You Met Miss Jones?” (from the Rodgers and Hart musical “I’d Rather Be Right’). He proclaimed love with “I’ll Tell the Man in the Street” (from another Rodgers-Hart show, “I Married an Angel”). He got the jaunty mood of “She Loves Me” (music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick), and eased into a more romantic tone with “Happiness” (from Sondheim’s “Passion ”) and also injected a romantic mood into “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” (from the film “The Happy Ending”).

O’Hare celebrated married life with “I Do, I Do” (music by Harvey Schmidt, lyrics by Tom Jones), and he sang about the need to be alone sometime as well as enjoying togetherness with “My Own Space” (Kander and Ebb. ) He also expressed a marital lament with “Nobody’s Perfect” (Schmidt and Jones), and with “You and I” (music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse from the film “Goodbye Mr. Chips”) he evoked special emotion when he sang of “growing older, growing closer.”

There were many more songs addressing aspects of love in his well-conceived program, and he provided much easy-listening pleasure with his self-confident delivery minus the sort of banter that many performers feel is required of them.

Extra strength was added by the Tom Nelson Trio, including musical director Tom Nelson on piano, Tom Kirchmer on bass and Peter Grant on drums. The show was directed by Eric Michael Gillett. At Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street, Phone: 212-757-0788. Reviewed April 30, 2018.

ANITA GILLETTE'S TRIBUTE TO IRVING BERLIN  Send This Review to a Friend

There are many reasons to wish Irving Berlin were still with us. But as I watched Anita Gillette perform her show titled “Me and Mr. B,” I couldn’t help thinking how much he would have enjoyed this warm, lively and fun-filled tribute to his great talent channeled so effectively by Gillette, who had a long-friendship with Berlin and talked about it between the numbers she did in her new show at Birdland last night (March 25).

Gillette repeats her performance tonight at 7 p.m.

What comes through so vibrantly is Gillette’s show biz experience. She is an actress as well as a superb singer with a long list of Broadway. television and film credits, and she displays a naturalness with her audience (no doubt backed by intense preparation), so that her performance of an hour and a half seems like an intimate party. If she happens to forget the order of a song, it is of no consequence, as Paul Greenwood, her expert pianist and music director, can cue her while she makes the most of the informality she projects.

Directed by Barry Kleinbort, this is a thoroughly pro affair, exemplified by the smoothness of Gillette’s integration with Greenwood, Ritt Henn on bass, and Dan Gross on drums. As a special attraction and one of the show’s highlights, David L. Harris on trombone teamed with Gillette on superb renditions of “Mr. Monotony” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” The combination was ultra smooth and musically enticing.

Gillette pointed out that Berlin wrote 1,499 songs. How to choose? She did an excellent job picking out numbers reflecting the variety in his work. Her opening combination of “No Strings” and “The Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night” set the tone. She did an exotic interpretation of “Blue Skies,” with the band joining in vocally.

She can easily switch to the amusing, saucy “If You Don’t Like My Peaches” and finds hilarity in being made nervous by “The Secret Service.” Gillette appeared on Broadway in Berlin’s “Mr. President,” from which she sang “It Gets Lonely in the White House.” Another of her choices, “They Say It’s Wonderful,” was sung with delicacy and charm.

Gillette has often teamed with Penny Fuller, whom she summoned to the stage to join her in a rousing “Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Devil.” Fuller is a superb actress-singer and they are always fun together.

Gillette evoked a very romantic feeling with “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” and she projected Berlin’s ray of hope in her encore number “It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow.” Finally, she referenced Berlin’s place in the lore of our country by singing his “God Bless America.”

In addition to her excellent voice and deeply felt interpretations of the Berlin songs, she provided anecdotes about their friendly meetings, and how Berlin’s secretary would summon her saying that Berlin is longing to talk with her. It is easy to imagine how Gillette, with her effervescent personality, sense of humor and knowledge of the Broadway scene would have amused him.

What comes across so entertainingly in “Me and Mr. B.” is the warmth and reference she feels for his repertoire. There is not a smidgen of exploitation in her honoring him. The sincerity comes through captivatingly, and it is a thorough delight to take this trip down memory lane with the ultra-accomplished, very likable Gillette. At Birdland, 315 West 44th Street, Phone: 212-581-3080. Reviewed March 26, 2018.

BARBARA LOWIN GOES BRITISH WITH HER ENTERTAINING NEW CABARET SHOW  Send This Review to a Friend

With her new “Written iin Britain” show unveiled at don’t tell mama, Barbara Lowin charmed with an elegant mix of songs from across the pond that enabled her to revel in humor ranging from sophisticated to broad, yet also be moving with serious songs of love and commemoration. She was especially engaging with a sense of fun in this show, which also gave a chance for her long-time artistic director and superb pianist, Paul Greenwood, to amusingly add his excellent voice to some of the numbers.

Lowin began by looking down on the demeaned British policy decision with a name that she would not stoop to say, and decided that Britain could use a friendly pat on the back—hence this musical adventure. A smart intro. Later, she had a great time waving a British flag that she had acquired for the occasion.

At one point Lowin recalled having been a child radio star while growing up in Toronto until she was too to continue--background applicable to her two fairy numbers, one “There Are Fairies at the Bottom of Our Garden” by Liza Lehmann and Rose Fylemann, and the other more pertinent and hilarious “Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty” by Arthur Le Clerq. To amusingly get into the spirit of the aging lament, she donned what passed for fairy wings.

Lowin quickly contrasted the foregoing with the melancholy World War I poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lt. Col. John McCrae and the World War I romantic favorite “The Roses of Picardy” by Frederic Weatherly and Haydn Wood.”

Lowin opened her far-ranging program, directed by Scott Barnes, with “Big Best Shoes” by Sandy Wilson from “Valmouth,” followed by “Who Will Buy?” by Anthony Newly and Leslie Bricusse from “The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd,” and then “Feelin’ Good” by Lionel Bart from “Oliver.”

Lowin excelled with vocal and lyric interpretation in performing “If Music Be the Food of Love” by Henry Purcell, “We Gather Lilacs in the Spring Again” by Ivor Novello, “The Very Thought of You” by Ray Noble and “Every Breath You Take” by Sting. There was, of course, the British 1960s era, which Lowin referenced especially with “And I Love Him” and “Something” by Paul McCartney and George Harrison, plus a 1960s medley.

One of the funniest numbers in the Monty Python “Spamalot” is “The Song That Goes Like This,” and Lowin and Greenwood raised hell with that one. Earlier there was fun with the John W. Bratton-Jimmy Kennedy “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”

But Lowin brought a lovely conclusion to the pre-encore program with a reminder of the emotional songs that Charlie Chaplin composed, an accomplishment often forgotten in the light of his comic acting and filmic genius. His best known is “Smile,” which Lowin sang exquisitely. She also infused sensitivity into Chaplin’s “This is My Song,” and “I’ll Be Loving You, Eternally.”

Have you noticed anything missing? What would a show about British songs be without Noël Coward? The gap was filled uproariously with Lowin’s encore number “Countess Mizzi” from Coward’s “Operette,” with extra amusement also provided by Lowin’s introduction to the piece.

Lowin performs her show again on Wednesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. At don’t tell mama, 343 West 46th Street, Phone: 212-757-0788. Reviewed March 12, 2018.

ADRIENNE HAAN DELIVERS HER OWN STORM WITH CABARET FRANÇAIS 2  Send This Review to a Friend

Finding good cheer on a lousy snowy night in Manhattan was not easy. And then along came exuberant international chanteuse Adrienne Haan and her “Cabaret Français 2” show, a sequel to her delightful previous venture into French chansons, to light up the Triad last night (March 7) for a large audience who braved the weather to hear this always remarkable performer. The minute she took the stage thoughts of what was going on outside were obliterated by the force of her personality and spirited singing.

The substantial audience would have been even larger had there not been cancellations by those from the suburbs who found getting into the city tough. But we New Yorkers don’t let the weather stop us.

The reward was great. Haan was a sight to behold as she turned up wearing black silk pants and a top that the French call a corsage, this one in gold, black and blue, which Haan noted afterward “is in the colors of Louis XIV, the Sun King.” Haan certainly has the figure for the bare-shoulder outfit.

Much of her repertoire this time around consisted of lesser known chansons, although she opened with well-known favorites--Edith Piaf’s “Padam Padam” “La vie en rose” and “L’accordéoniste.”

Haan, who has an impressive voice, loves to dramatize her numbers with elaborate expressions and gestures, even at one point dropping to her knees (shades of Al Jolson). She obviously feels the lyrics deeply, and she makes a point of linking songs to her family background, which includes ties to Luxembourg and Germany. She told how she was very close to her grandmother who loved French songs and profoundly influenced her.

Haan is fond of singing works by Jacques Brel, as in “La Chanson des vieux amants” and of Kurt Weill as in ”Je ne l’aime pas.” She also sang French Canadian pop-singer Isabelle Boulay’s beautiful “Nos rivières” and Charles Aznavour’s “La Bohème.”

She explored the songs of Patricia Kaas, French contemporary jazz-pop singer, including a medley of her work, and her “Kennedy Rose.” Haan also did a “Paris Medley” of songs by Walter Jurmann, an Austrian composer who, because he was Jewish, spent time in exile in Paris during the 1930s.

Haan enjoys chatting with her audience, as when she noted her interest in the assassination of President Kennedy and how when she visited Dallas, Texas, she made a point of seeing where the murder took place. She indicated that she had kept up with various theories about the shooting.

Ever effervescent, Haan has the knack of stimulating audience participation in some of her numbers, as she did with Edith Piaf’s “Milord,” her closing number. The arrangements for her program were excellent, and she paid tribute to pianist Richard Danley, noting that this was the 15th anniversary of her working with him as her musical director. At the Triad, 158 West 72nd Street. Phone: 212-362-2590. Reviewed March 8, 2018.

RICHARD HOLBROOK'S HOLIDAY GREETING AND MORE  Send This Review to a Friend

A charming, talented singer with a desire to please, cabaret artist Richard Holbrook has brought his “The Many Moods of Christmas” show to Don’t Tell Mama, which I caught last night (November 26). Holbrook presents a seasonal program, not just Christmas staples, and even injects some satire into his repertoire.

At the outset Holbrook establishes his tone and approach with a medley built upon “I Happen to Like New York.” He has a very youthful looking face, and his delivery oozes enthusiasm and sincerity. He gets profoundly into his selections, and the lyrics are always crispy-clear, with their meaning coming through sharply.

In short, Holbrook is very likable and very accomplished, which becomes apparent to his audience as in good voice he entertainingly ranges through broad territory. Occasionally he weaves in autobiographical notes that help you get to know him.

His “Silver Bells” and “Colored Lights” are especialy effective, and so is “Glow Worm.” One of my favorites turned out to be the schizophrenic “Confessions of a New Yorker (Hate-Love New York)," a witty assembly of pros and cons, but adding up to a love affair with the city.

Holbrook plunges into jazz with “Cool Yule,” with music and lyrics by Steve Allen and additional lyrics by Eric Kornfeld. The funniest song is the witty “The Twelve Days After Christmas,” a parody with words and music by Frederick Silver, which Holbrook performs with delight.

Overall, Holbrook provides a generous helping of expertly sung selections that make for an enjoyable cabaret experience. At the end he gets more into the yuletide spirit with his wish to all, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Excellent musical backing is provided by the Tom Nelson Trio, with Nelson, Holbrook’s musical director, at the piano, Tom Kirschmer on bass and Peter Grant on drums. You can catch Holbrook during December—Dec. 3 at 8:30 p.m., Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 8:30 p.m. At Don’t Tell Mama, 313 West 46th Street. Phone: 212-757-0788. Reviewed November 27, 2017.

  

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