Singer Jessica Molaskey has always exhibited a keen sense of humor, noted in her smooth performances with her husband John Pizzarelli. That makes her a natural for teaming with the wry, witty composer/pianist/singer Dave Frishberg in their show titled “Do You Miss New York?” at the Oak Room supper club in the Algonquin Hotel (March 15-April 2, 2011). Those of us who live in New York don’t have a chance to miss it. And why would anyone want to miss Molaskey and Frishberg in their entertaining joint venture?
They flash cool expertise with mostly songs that the ultra clever Frishberg has written. He does the piano chores and sometimes sings solo, while at other times they join in duets or the spotlight goes to Molaskey giving her well-honed interpretations. Humor courses through much of the evening, as with the number “Brown River,” which, Frishberg explains, contemplates the sentimental “Moon River” concept after 50 years, with lyrics twitting ensuing pollution.
The team has a good time with “Who’s on First?” as an opener. Molaskey zings into “I’m Hip/I Won’t Scat” and does justice to one of Frishberg’s often-requested favorites, “My Attorney Bernie.” Especially delightful was Frishberg soloing on “I Want to be a Side Man.”
Frishberg and Molaskey reach into the show “The New Yorkers: Tales from the Algonquin Roundtable” for a hilarious number ridiculing Dorothy Parker’s threats of suicide as they join in singing “Will You Die?”
But for all of the levity, Frishberg’s compositions sometimes show a romantic side. We are treated to one example with Molaskey singing “You Are There.” The show includes many of the better known Frishberg numbers, such as “Slappin’ the Cakes,” “I Want to be a Side Man” and “Long Daddy Green.” And of course, the wistful, delightful “Do You Miss New York?”
There is an easy-going tone throughout, best highlighted when the pair slips into one of their finely-tuned duets. It is certainly an evening for musical sophisticates.
One minor complaint: On opening night the ending was ragged. After they took their bows, Molaskey disappeared and left it to Frishberg to finish solo with “Listen Here.” He then took final bows to his appreciative audience alone, but it would have been much more congenial had he summoned his partner to return so that they could end the evening sharing final applause with the togetherness that defines their show. At the Oak Room, the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street. Reservations: 212-419-9331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(NOTE: I am pleased to have been informed that Molaskey and Frishberg will now end the show by joining in a final adieu together.)