By William Wolf
CABARET STARS JOIN IN TRIBUTE TO MABEL MERCER AND BOBBY SHORT Send This Review to a Friend
Forty-five years ago cabaret icons Mabel Mercer and Bobby Short appeared in a much-revered concert at The Town Hall. History has come full circle. In the very same venue the Mabel Mercer Foundation staged an anniversary concert (May 16, 2013) paying tribute to Mercer and Short with an array of cabaret stars performing mostly songs associated with the honorees in an impressive three-hour concert.
Host of the event was KT Sullivan, who has stepped into the breach left by the death of Donald Smith and become the Artistic Director of the Foundation. Sullivan, always a walking fashion statement, was flamboyantly bedecked in a black and white motif. She launched the evening spiritedly singing “Throwin' a Ball Tonight” and “You Are Not My First Love.”
The tribute’s chief story teller was critic Rex Reed, who entertainingly name-dropped with tales of experiences involving celebrities and Mercer and Short. The printed program included liner notes that Reed had written for the celebrated Mercer-Short concert recording. In addition to spinning amusing anecdotes, Reed took to the mike himself, tenderly singing “Some Fine Day.”
An emotional highlight was the appearance of beloved cabaret star Julie Wilson, who sang “But Beautiful.” At this stage the elderly first lady of cabaret recites lyrics more than sings them, but she still displays the clarity and feeling that has been part of her trademark and her mere appearance recalls the glamour of the world of cabaret as it once existed. She received an enthusiastic standing ovation upon arriving on stage.
There were numerous highlights in the program. Andrea Marcovicci was especially lively as she sauntered around the stage interacting with the audience. Her songs: “Did You Ever Cross Over to Snedens?” and, adding a note of cute sensuality, “Isn’t He Adorable!”
I especially enjoyed Larry Woodard with his expertise at the piano, singing “Why Did I Choose You?” I’m used to seeing Tamara Tunie on TV in the “Law and Order” episodes—“in scrubs” as she put it—so it was gratifying to hear her pensively sing “Ballad of a Sad Young Man,” related to soldiers back from war and demonstrating the show biz side of her talent.
Lauren Fox performs with her own distinctive clarity and fine voice, and her interpretation of “Both Sides Now” held the crowd spellbound. Natalie Douglas packs power, as shown in her rendition of “Down in the Depths on the 90th Floor,” another of the event’s highlights.
No such program would be complete without the veteran cabaret star Steve Ross, who played piano in high style while singing “That Black and White Baby of Mine,” and then more delicately delivering “How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen?
Other memorable moments included Joyce Breach singing “Carry Me Back to Manhattan;” Iris Williams putting much feeling in “Folks That Live on the Hill,” Eric Yves Garcia performing “I Can’t Get Started With You,” cabaret and stage star Karen Mason singing “Time Heals Everything,” Karen Oberlin giving her all with “Something to Live For;” dynamic Clint Holmes, who has done a program in tribute to Bobby Short, singing “Just One of Those Things” and “Losing My Mind,” and Barbara Fasano performing “Remind Me,” with Eric Comstock at the piano and also singing “Looking at You.”
There was a lot more, participants also including T. Oliver Reid, Marissa Mulder, Spider Saloff and Rickey Ritzel, Lumiri Tubo, Catherine Russell, Tanya Holt and the entire company leading the audience in “Here’s to Us.”
Musicians taking part at various points during the evening included pianists Jon Weber, Mike Renzi, Bill Zeffiro, Mark Hummel, Art Weiss, James Followell, Jeffrey Neiman, Rick Jensen and Mark Hartman; on bass Ritt Henn and on drums Michael Croiter.
At the Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street. Reviewed May 17, 2013.
TYRELL SALUTES SAMMY CAHN AT CAFÉ CARLYLE Send This Review to a Friend
When watching singer Steve Tyrell turn on the charm as he performs, I always get a kick seeing various women in the audience grinning, their heads bobbing enthusiastically along with the music. Some of the men do some finger-snapping, but Tyrell has that seductive appeal to the ladies. He permeates the room with a sense of style and fun, as if he is having a good time and wants his audience to share in the pleasure. That was once again the scene when I caught his latest stint at the Café Carlyle (May 7-18), with his current program, “It’ Magic: The Songs of Sammy Cahn.” No surprise, it is also the title of Tyrell’s new album.
Tyrell looked sharp and relaxed and, as is custom, told assorted anecdotes in introducing some of the songs for which Cahn had written the lyrics. Before singing ”Come Rain or Come Shine,” he told of being in a New Jersey club when someone tough looking came up and pressed $100 in his hand and said “the boss” would like him to sing. Tyrell recounted that when he drew back, the man pressed more money into his hand and stressed again that “the boss” wanted him to sing. Tyrell inquired whether he should sing “Come Rain or Come Shine," the emissary of “the boss” replied, “You’d better sing both of them.”
Tyrell pointed out that Cahn would have been 100 years old this year, and it would have been the same for his collaborator Jimmy Van Heusen on “The Tender Trap,” which he delivered with typical gusto. He noted before singing “Call Me Irresponsible,” that Cahn had said it was his favorite.
The last song for which Cahn wrote the lyrics, noted Tyrell, was “It’s Crazy” (written with Arthur Butler), which lay dormant for years. As then sung by Tyrell, one wondered why it took so long. Going over a bit of music history, Tyrell noted that Cahn was right in tune with the mood epitomized during the days of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, and as an example, he delivered a jaunty version of “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” He also amusingly described Cahn as a little guy who looked as if he had come to do the books, but was able to produce some of the greatest collection of lyrics in the past century.
Other Tyrell treats included his renditions of “Look of Love;” “Anything But Love;“ “Come Fly with Me” (Looking at a woman in the audience he added, “Don’t tell mother where we’re going”); “It’s Magic;” “Teach Me Tonight;” "It's Been a Long, Long Time” and “I Fall in Love Too Easily.”
Trumpeter Lew Soloff delivered some nifty solos, adding to the impact of the band backing up the star. It includes Quinn Johnson, piano and musical direction; David Finck, bass; Bob Mann, guitar; Kevin Winard, drums and Jon Allen, keyboard.
At the Café Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street (at Madison Avenue). www.theCarlyle.com. Reviewed May 9, 2013.
YVONNE CONSTANT--ONE OF A KIND Send This Review to a Friend
Keeping the tradition of the French chanteuse alive and available, Yvonne Constant has a new show dubbed “One of a Kind,” and indeed she is these days. Constant has three more dates coming up at the Metropolitan Room--May 7, May 20 and May 28, all in a 7 p.m. slot. Constant is of the chanteuse genre that has captivated many Francophiles, among whom I counted myself even before my first trip to Paris in my youth.
On her opening night (April 30, 2013), Constant recounted experiences upon arrival in the United States in terms of freedom, not political freedom in comparison to France, but personal freedom as a woman. Ruminating on the subject of freedom, she noted that “the problem is love—it gets in the way of your independence.” But in terms of the personal freedom she discovered as a woman in New York, she spoke about how free it seemed for a woman to be able “to walk in the street smoking a cigarette,” apparently something frowned upon in France at the time.
I first saw her in “La Plume de Ma Tante” in the 1950s. Let’s not talk about passing years. Constant looked great in her glittering outfit, with a mini skirt that showed off her trademark legs. She reminisced about dealing with producer David Merrick and meeting Johnny Carson, on whose show she appeared 45 times. “He liked me for my wit,” she said with a smile.
The key, of course, is her music. After singing “Je Chante Avec Toi Liberté” from the Verdi opera “Nabucco” and “One of Those Songs,” she launched into the amusing “La-La-La” (music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers), with her musical director and accompanist Russ Kassoff singing along with her.
Constant likes to sing the French original that was adapted into the English “My Way,” which became a big hit for Frank Sinatra. Many do not know this, and Constant enlightened her audience with “Comme D’Habitude,” with music by Claude François.
In a shift of mood she sang “Mon Vieux” (“My Dad”), a sentimental ode, which she performed in English.
After ruminating on a scandal in France, Constant amusingly sang the cynical “How Money Changes Hands” from the American musical “Tenderloin,” written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick.
Liberty and patriotism were extolled by Constant with reference to the partisans who fought the Nazi occupation of her country. She sang “Le Chant Des Partisans” (music by Anna Marli, lyrics by Joseph Kessel and Maurice Druon). She also sang “Paris en Colere” from the movie “Is Paris Burning?” (music by Maurice Harre and lyrics by Maurice Vidalin).
There were various other selections sung in her inimitable style, and of course, an encore—the jaunty “It Was a Good Time.” And indeed that pretty much summarized he evening. Yvonne Constant’s performance itself offered a good time with the authentic article—a French chanteuse. At the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street. Phone: 212-206-0440. Reviewed May 1, 2013.
PAUL WILLIAMS—HUMOR AND SONG AT THE CAFÉ CARLYLE Send This Review to a Friend
There’s a lot of self-kidding coming from song writer Paul Williams in his affable debut at the Café Carlyle (April 23-May 4, 2013), which is titled “”The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me.” The “me” comes through from the start, as he makes fun of the tradition of performers saying how wonderful it is to be at the vaunted Carlyle, then playfully does the same thing, expressing amazement being on the stage “baptized by Bobby Short.”
He announces that everything he sings has been written by him or in collaboration.
Composers don’t usually have the voices to go with their creations. Williams sings pleasantly enough to get across the meaning of his lyrics (he apparently has written more lyrics than music), many of them tied to particular moments of his life, which has had its ups and downs, including a long bout with alcoholism and drugs from which he emerged many years ago.
He jokes about himself as a youngster, “looking like a kid with a hangover,” and being only 4’6” tall by high school. Referring to the music and lyrics he wrote for the film “Bugsy Malone,” about children cast as little gangsters, he quips, “I got to keep the clothes.” He talks about his youthful desire to be an actor, which he has achieved in various venues, but adding how did he know then that he would find his career in song writing and that it would one day lead to his becoming president of ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers).
Williams amusingly pairs his song “Evergreen” (music by Barbra Streisand) and ‘The Love Boat Theme” (music by Charles Fox), which he also sings and mocks with a tale of how it was hastily written in a collaboration that seemed a lark at the time, but the theme going on to last along with the TV program. He also jokes about getting stoned with actor Robert Mitchum, with a song being given birth in Mitchum’s hotel room.
Tracing the tendency of his mother to walk around talking to herself, he sings the number he wrote as a result of that observation, “Rainy Days and Mondays” (music by Roger Nichols). Williams also performs “We’ve Only Just Begun” (also with Nichols), “Rainbow Connection" (written with Kenneth Ascher) and “Some Day I’ll Learn to Be Me,” written with Tracey Jackson, who was in the audience on opening night. He also does “the only song I ever wrote with John Williams"-- “You’re So Nice to be Around.”
The performer is backed by his musical director Chris Caswell at the piano, and John Lee Sanders on keyboard, sax and guitar, with both being given chances to impressively solo.
The entire show has an easygoing atmosphere with Williams as much enthusiastic raconteur as singer. Between performing what he has written, he educates us on his long career trail that has resulted in a host of experiences with the many awards to go with them. You have to like the guy. At the Café Carlyle, The Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue. www.thecarlyle.com. Reviewed April 24, 2013.
PIZZARELLI MAGIC AT THE CAFÉ CARLYLE Send This Review to a Friend
If you want to experience the glory of musical virtuosity, get thee to the Café Carlyle to take pleasure in the performing of son John and father Bucky in their Pizzarelli fest
(April 9-April 20). The official billing is the John Pizzarelli Quartet with special guest Bucky Pizzarelli. What we witness is the superb guitar playing by father and son and the very special musical relationship that they have. It’s a love-in for them and also for the audience.
The Pizzarellis appear to feed off each other, with John doing the singing, including his ability to furiously scat while playing his instrument, with Bucky excelling with his guitar expertise. At times Bucky delivers sublime solos, with John watching as if he is never sure what delight will come next from his dad. Bucky grins a lot, as if he is having the time of his life playing and shows no sign of slacking off despite his age of 87. He’s still the master at work.
Such were the dynamics on opening night of this two-week engagement. John’s quartet was solid, with John’s brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass, Larry Fuller on piano and delivering great solo runs, with Tony Tedesco on drums and getting a chance to show his individual prowess as well.
The tone was set with the colorfully intense interpretation of “My Blue Heaven” as the opener, with John singing and at one point changing the lyrics to “Molly and me and Bucky makes three,” with Bucky soloing on cue. The mood became more gentle with John singing “I’m Confessin’” and Bucky providing magical guitar strains.
But you ain’t heard nothin’ until you experience their “Tangerine,” a wild adventure with John and Bucky dueting, and John scatting like crazy.
As those who have heard him before know, John has the gift of the gab, and his comments are amusing as well as informative. In the course of the banter, he remembered that his dad, when young, played in the big band era with Vaughn Monroe. A propos, they performed “I’d Like to Recognize the Tune” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, which John pointed out was written as a protest to the vogue of brass among the big bands of the day.
Their selections also included a lively “Mountain Greenery” and what John described as the “anti ‘One More for the Road’”—“Have Another One, Not Me.” The mood got especially mellow as Bucky did exquisite renditions of “Body and Soul” and “These Foolish Things” while John stood proudly by watching him with fascination.
John said there was no point in going off stage and coming back for an encore, an extra effort for dad, so they just wound up by treating the audience to their version of “Sweet Lorraine.” By then one could bask in the comfort of having experienced a memorable evening of guitar playing at its best by icons of the musical world. You can have that experience too through April 20. At the Café Carlyle, Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street (At Madison Avenue). www.thecarlyle.com. Reviewed April 10, 2013.
BEBE NEUWIRTH IN DEPTH AT 54 BELOW Send This Review to a Friend
She is deep down at the newly fashionable 54 Below, but Bebe Neuwirth’s performance soars high and achieves admirable artistic depth in a smashing exhibition of what makes her such a fabulous entertainer. In her “Stories with Piano” show (March 18-23, 2013), with Scott Cady as her piano accompanist, Neuwirth makes a point that she loves to sing songs that tell stories. And she does so with her entire being.
Although she points out that her opener, Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano,” is not a story song, she gives the story behind it. It was for a long time the number she did at auditions.
The first actual song story comes with the Kander and Ebb “Ring Them Bells,” about the gal who goes abroad in search of a man and meets the guy who lives in the next-door apartment. And wow, does Neuwirth ring them bells. She rings them with her voice, and rings them with her shoulders and hips. Her whole body, vocally and physically, is an entertainment machine.
An example of her physical fluidity is on display when she sings Edith Piaf’s “Simply a Waltz,” as her arms flow in and out in delicate ripples and her hips sway. Throughout the show we see the results of Neuwirth’s experience as a dancer integrated in various numbers with agility, such as Irving Berlin’s “It Only Happens When I Dance With You.”
Her choice of Kurt Weill’s music results in exquisite interpretations, from the delicate “Susan’s Dream,” a Weill and Alan Jay Lerner collaboration, to the dynamic Weill-Brecht “The Bilbao Song,” in which she creates the spell of a time gone by in one of the best renditions I have heard. She also captures the sad romanticism of love and loss with the Weill-Brecht “Surabaya Johnny.”
Neuwirth is a fan of the work of Tom Waits, and she does justice to his “Invitation to the Blues” and “Shiver Me Timbers.” She provides a teasingly sexy interpretation of Frank Loesser’s “Slow Boat to China,” gives a whirlwind presentation of the Kander and Ebb “But the World Goes ‘Round,” and a lovely encore with the Sammy Fain-Irving Kahal “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
Neuwirth is fond of interjecting personal comments dealing with her feelings about certain selections blended with a bit of her own show business history. There is always a danger of such a gambit becoming too talky, but Neuwirth establishes such friendly rapport with her audience that her comments are most welcome, as if her show were an intimate get-together. It is an intelligent fusion with her story-telling songs that time after time demonstrate her sublime talent and likeability. At 54 Below, 254 West 54th Street. www.54Below.com. Reviewed March 21, 2013
DEBBY BOONE AT THE CAFÉ CARLYLE Send This Review to a Friend
On opening night of her “Swing This” show at the Café Carlyle (March 19-30, 2013), Debby Boone recalled that when she was a youngster while her father Pat Boone was performing during the 1960s in Las Vegas at the Sands and Sahara hotels, she peeked into a lounge and saw a woman singing. She immediately thought that’s what she would like to do. Her wish came true, and Boone shows herself to be sort of a lounge act singer, or maybe the kind of singer who would have fronted for big bands of an earlier era. In fact, she has a rather big band behind her in her new gig—a nine-piece team headed by the gifted musical director/pianist/arranger John Oddo, a solid group that makes its mark while not overwhelming the intimate room.
Boone, who has had hit records, won Grammy awards and nominations and performed on Broadway, brings along the history of experiences in the shadow of her father, as well as having toured with her late mother-in-law Rosemary Clooney. She peppered her opening night show with references to those whom she got to know from childhood, such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., although it was hard to work up any twinge of sympathy when she described the life’s troubles those stars had, given our knowledge of the hell-raising fun the Rat Pack guys enjoyed.
All of this was, of course, background to Debby Boone’s performance itself. Looking good, she turned up in a floor-length black gown with thin straps and bared shoulders, all emphasizing her trim figure. She seemed relaxed, professional and enjoying herself, mugging a lot, as she zipped through a repertoire of standards. She prefaced “These Boots Are Made for Walking” by hoisting a shapely leg to reveal the high-heeled, boot-like shoes that she was sporting. “I couldn’t resist,” she said.
Not a song-stylist, she sings forthrightly and entertainingly, establishing a pleasant mood, which she varies according to her song choices. Boone sailed into a bouncy version of “Mack the Knife,” with an after-thought that maybe with so much blood being spilled in the song, it shouldn’t be that much fun. But, she noted, yet it is.
She veered to softness with such numbers as “More Than You Know,” “It Never Entered My Mind” and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.” She told her audience how much she admired Barbra Streisand and had the nerve to sing the song she fell in love with when she heard Streisand sing it—“Cry Me a River.” Again linking to her past, she recalled how Dean Martin playfully mocked her father for not drinking,and she followed with her version of Martin’s enduring hit “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime.”
Other numbers she served up included the peppy “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die,” “Sway” “That Old Black Magic, “’Round Midnight” and “You and the Night and the Music.”
Boone provided a big surprise for her encore. The great guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli joined her on stage to expertly accompany her in a quiet, intimate rendition of “Be Careful Its My Heart.” It was definitely a coup of a finale. At the Café Carlyle, Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street (at Madison Avenue), www.thecarlyle.com. Reviewed March 20, 2013.
CHARLES BUSCH'S LOVE AFFAIR WITH HIS 54 BELOW AUDIENCE Send This Review to a Friend
All it takes is for Charles Busch to walk on stage in his get-up for the occasion and he has already won over his audience. In his show on March 7, 2013, at New York’s popular new nightspot 54 Below Busch took the spotlight wearing a turban topping his red-head wig with oodles of curls. His black jacket was adorned with glitter, his black pants were trim and the beaded necklace he wore had enough loops to strangle somebody. Then he gave the crowd a knowing look that set the rest of the scene. The audience was already his.
The thing about Busch is that beyond his studied façade he really delivers with his versatile talent. (Off-stage he is an accomplished playwright.) He can cut up with his satirical impressions of movie icons. But he can also tenderly and movingly sing a number like “I Wonder What Became of Me” by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. And he knows how to spin a story for laughs, as when he told of a recent engagement in Hudson New York, where he once had an affair and thought it would be nice to look up his former lover. “But when you do the math he would now be 102,” Busch said. “I know that’s the new 90, but…”
And at one point he mentioned having come back from entertaining on a gay cruise, with two early shows going well, but the last show turned out to look like a leather-theme disco party, and he convulsed the crowd with his description of chases by “old bears” using walkers.
He was on target especially with his reading of bitchy remarks about each other from Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and no surprise, he nailed them both with perfection and utter hilarity. He also impersonated the late actress Gladys George, culminating in the number “Cigarettes Cigars” by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel.
Busch paid tribute to his pianist and musical director Tom Judson, who got his chance to sing. But Busch had fun mugging and looking bored while Judson performed. Busch also did an extremely funny riff on the Cinderella fairy tale with emphasis on the hateful wicked stepmother who winds up killing her stepdaughter.
Pointing out some celebrities in the audience, he highlighted Julie Halston, and said she might come on stage with encouragement. (Much applause,) And up she strode. After a bit of banter, Halston said she likes to read and produced a newspaper announcement of a gay marriage. Before she started to read it, she made the point that New York now has gay marriage, again to applause. Then she satirically went over the item bit by bit, with an array of amusing expressions and her customary expert timing. I had heard her do the routine previously before a receptive very mixed audience and I wondered how gays might react to the piece. No worry. This mostly male crowd roared with delight at every nuance.
Busch has a friendly manner, except when deliberately summoning a bitchy side, and it is easy to see why an audience can take to him. He is, of course, an icon, and anyone who has not yet made his stage acquaintance can take advantage of his 54 Below gig. His next show is on March 14, At 54 Below, 254 West 54th Street, Reviewed March 8, 2013.
ALPERT, HALL AND BAND TOPS AT CAFÉ CARLYLE Send This Review to a Friend
It’s all about the music when veteran trumpeter Herb Alpert, his charming and talented wife Lani Hall and their musicians take to the stage at the Café Carlyle in their new show (March 5-16, 2013). They work so smoothly together that the numbers are seamless and we are transported to a special world that they create.
Alpert and Hall have known each other for 43 years, they have been married for 39 years and the unity shows consistently in their musical collaboration. They have returned to the Carlyle with the same talented musicians who were with them the last time around, Bill Cantos on piano, Hussain Jiffry on electric bass, and Michael Shapiro on drums and the background beat they provide keeps the rhythm coming steadily.
Hall sings nearly throughout, apart from Alpert’s welcome solos, and she has a style of her own. She can take a standard and give it a punchy staccato twist as with “Anything Goes,” or she can be sweet and mellow singing “Sorri” (“Smile”). She amusingly sings rapid-fire with the lyrics of “Pararaio,” and has a different sort of fun with “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
Of course, Alpert’s reputation with the Tijuanna Brass never leaves him, and he pleases with a “Tijuanna Brass Medley,” including “This Guy’s in Love with You” and other favorites. Time fades when we become immersed in his soloing, as with “And the Angels Sing,” for which pianist Cantos has done a special arrangement,” or “Besame Mucho.”
At a late point in the program, Alpert asks audience members if they have any questions,
not requests, just questions. A bit of banter flows, but I always find that sort of thing a distraction. It’s the music that counts, especially with the expertise that provides such a glow to the show.
Among the numbers getting various treatments are “Moondance,” “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” “Old Black Magic,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Viola Fora de Moda,” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” the latter sung by Hall, who does get under one’s skin with her enthusiasm and easy-going manner.
Oh yes, Alpert has a new album.
For supper club entertainment at is best, this is the place to be through March 16 is the Café Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street (at Madison Avenue). Phone: 212-744-1600.
JOHN LLOYD YOUNG ‘S TURN AT THE CAFÉ CARLYLE Send This Review to a Friend
Various performers at the Café Carlyle through the years have concentrated on selections from what is known as the American Song Book. John Lloyd Young in his show called “My Turn” debuts at the Café Carlyle (February 12-23, 2013) with his own songbook, hits mainly from the 1960s, which dovetails with the fame he acquired as Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys.” In fact, he has returned to “Jersey Boys,” taking a leave for his cabaret show, after which he’ll be back in the long-running production.
Young delivers on what his fans will come to hear in this stint, named after his album “My Turn…” On opening night he spent time getting acquainted with his audience, catching up on what he’s been doing since he moved to California after copping a host of awards for “Jersey Boys.” (I first met him in connection with the actor award given by Drama Desk when I was president of the organization of theater critics and journalists.)
In addition to his singing appearances on the West Coast, he has been building a career in the art world and supporting a host of favorite charities.
In the audience for the opening were co-book authors of “Jersey Boys,”
Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. This gave Young the opportunity for a bit of humor. He said they had advised him to talk about his humble beginnings—which he did—so that an audience would like him more. It was one example of the humorous manner that he projected in defining himself to get closer to the crowd, which he definitely managed to do as the show developed.
That didn’t overshadow his musical performance as the main event. For starters he was backed strongly by the seven piece band—“Glee” music producer Tommy Faragher, musical director also on piano and keyboard; John Putnam, guitar; Paul Socolow, bass; Eric Kalb, drums, Goke Erem, violin; Eddy Malave, viola, and Leigh Stuart, cello. It added up to a big sound appropriate for Young’s dynamic delivery.
The size of his repertoire provided the opportunity for Young, who looks trim and handsome, to show his stuff, including, where appropriate, to ascend to the sky-high voice that he flashes so impressively. He sang a wide array of numbers including “Only You,’ “Since I Fell for You,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Just One Smile,” “Show and Tell,” “Since I Don’t Have You,” “You Belong to Me,” “Crying:, “Say No More,” and may others in his hour plus show.
Young had some fun riffing on why he thought it foolish to leave the stage and return for an encore. So he stood firmly at the mike and delivered, rising to a special height with “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” an example of Young at his best.
The booking at the Café Carlyle provides an opportunity for those who have thrilled to his performance in “Jersey Boys” to make his acquaintance close up in the intimacy of the fabled supper club. At the Café Carlyle, 35 East 76th Street (at Madison Avenue). www.thecarlyle.com. Reviewed February 13, 2013.