In a program amusingly titled “Cowardly Swann,” Delphi Harrington and Woody Regan collaborate charmingly to celebrate the songs of Noël Coward and the team of Flanders and Swann. While all three are no longer with us, their reputations and their legacy lives on, with affectionate memories of those who have admired them or been influenced by their work.
I have appreciated the extensive work of Harrington as an actress, and in this program, which I saw last night (February 25, 2015) at the Metropolitan Room, she summoned her stage skills to provide a congenial, story-telling atmosphere to go with the music. Regan not only accompanies Harrington’s singing on the piano, but also sings, solo and in duets with her, and the two have an easy-going rapport, emphasized in the show’s direction by Ann McCormack.
Harrington stresses how much of an influence Coward’s work had on her as she moved up the ladder in her career. (Her extensive credits include appearing in Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.”) Regan expresses fan-like enthusiasm for the entertaining and creative skills of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, who captivated audiences when they appeared on the New York stage with their show “At the Drop of a Hat,” as well as with recordings of their amusing songs and patter.
The program on the night that I attended opened with Harrington and Regan singing Coward’s “Sail Away” from the musical of that title. Coward’s contributions are also recognized in the show by the inclusion, for example, of his “If Love Were All,” “20th Century Blues,” “Nina,” “Mrs. Worthington” “A Bar on the Picolo Marina,” and as an appropriate encore closer, Harrington’s tender rendering of “I’ll See You Again.”
The playfulness in the Flanders and Swann songs are epitomized by “Gnu” “Madeira” “The Hippopotamus,” three of their very best, as well as others in the program reflecting their special talent.
Harrington, who is of Greek background, charms with a song from her childhood, “Koukouraki,” which doesn’t have anything to do with the theme, but gives the program a felicitous personal note. Harrington and Regan will perform their show again on March 25 and April 15 at the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street. Phone: 212-206-0440. Reviewed Februafry 26, 2015.