Marilyn Maye has nothing on her mind but spreading joy. For a swinging broad of 84 (and I mean that in the best way), she also sings up a storm, but you already knew that. The joy is contagious, and she spreads it around like honey on toast. She calls her current show at Feinstein’s “The Happiest Sound in Town”—she’s not kidding. Read More
Warm as a cashmere muffler, relaxed as a happy kitten, and ready for an attack of total perfection, Barbara Cook’s new show at Feinstein’s at Loew’s Regency shows off the legendary singer in a more intimate light than ever. She calls this appearance “Let’s Fall in Love,” and for good reason. Spring is a time for love songs, so through April 21, she’s up to her Easter bonnet brim with them. And this is the first time she has ever selected the song list on her own, without the aid of a musical “boss,” and done the layouts and interpolations herself. The result is fresh and as personal as if you were spending an evening in her own living room while she pulled favorite tunes from her piano bench. I have never heard that magical voice more mercurial or sparkling with so much musical magic. Read More
I probably haven’t seen the worst cabaret act of all time, but after Nellie McKay at Feinstein’s, I have certainly seen the dopiest. Part naive, lyric-driven song parade and part ecology lecture on the rape of the environment, this curiosity is called Silent Spring—It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature and it features the cute, sincere and woefully misguided actress-singer in the role of late environmentalist author Rachel Carson, who devoted her career to saving the planet from arrogant self-destruction. Ms. McKay is a gentle activist who loves dogs and flowers and everything green, attaching a few songs about nature to a rambling discourse about the dangers of pesticides, insecticides and other acrimonious environmental assaults. (It’s not a show you want to see on Valentine’s Day.) The musical interludes do little to alleviate the academic tedium generated by the disorganized patter wedged between them. One or two critics I respect have high regard for this girl, but all I can see is a vast need for improvement. Her heart may be in the right place, but frankly, this corny little act, which she has constructed from crêpe paper and good intentions, is something of a mess. Read More
There’s a ripe adjective to describe every flavored, favored aspect of Christine Ebersole’s versatility, and before she throws in the towel and does something besides entertain, like run for president, the critics will probably get around to using them all. For now, I can think of only one—sensational!
In her elegant, witty and intelligent new show at Café Carlyle, she serves up a thoughtful, incisive master class in how to enhance cabaret and keep it alive with fresh new insights that should be required viewing by aspiring performers everywhere. She calls it “The End of the World as We Know It.” I call it “Christine Ebersole Sings the Apocalypse.” She does it with such panache that the swinging Matt Dennis evergreen “Show Me the Way to Get Out of This World” has never been more relevant. When she shakes her saffron yellow curls and smiles her survival grin in Technicolor, she makes the end of the old world, the beginning of a new one, and everything in between seem as rare and giddy as a Disney cow. Read More
Rhythm and bounce, tempo and pounce. Petula Clark has lost none of her fizz. Her warm, engaging new act at Feinstein’s at Loew’s Regency is the first time she’s appeared in a New York nightclub since the dear, departed and much-lamented days of the Waldorf-Astoria’s Empire Room. That was 1975, after she had already moved to Switzerland to get away from the punishing rigors of show business and escape the taxes, but she hasn’t been sitting around her home in Geneva knitting mittens. Read More
Opening-night jitters threatened temporarily to diminish the vocal capacities of Paulo Szot in his new cabaret act at the Café Carlyle. The first four numbers, all part of a well-deserved celebration of the 100th birthday year of composer Burton Lane, suffered from pitch problems. Then something clicked and the romantic Brazilian baritone, who won a Tony for his starring role in South Pacific at Lincoln Center, grew more at ease. As his voice gained strength, his vocal resources increased and so did his artistry. The rest of the show, which runs through Jan. 28, was pure delight. Read More
Among the things the cherished soprano Barbara Cook and the cabaret saloon singer and pianist Michael Feinstein possess in abundance—aside from the pleasure of singing, sharing the stage with other respected artists and spreading joy—is an undiminished passion for preserving the classics in the Great American Songbook. Their annual holiday shows at Feinstein’s at Loew’s Regency no longer have a seasonal bent. They’re just a welcome excuse for some favorite songs, served up in tinsel and holly. It’s not until the encore at the end of the evening that they examine their first and only nod to the festive season of eggnog and mistletoe, with Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” Still, if you can afford the outrageous prices, the show will leave you with a Yuletide glow through the end of December. Read More
Two polar opposites whose only common ground is talent, astute musical perfectionism and the ability to send their listeners away happy, Sandy Stewart and Marilyn Maye are, ironically, appearing on separate cabaret stages this week. Talk about an abundance of riches. Read More
Learning to sing the complicated songs of Stephen Sondheim fluently, remain rue to your own style, and examine fresh interpretations at the same time is a challenge few singers have managed to master. Karen Akers is the rare exception. In her ravishing new show at the Algonquin’s fabled Oak Room (through Oct. 29) she looks at the brilliant composer’s erratic tempos and captivating lyrics through a magnifying glass, finding new meanings under, behind and on the edges of lyrics less courageous performers inevitably pass over. The result is adventurous and thrilling. Read More
The New York cabaret season is humming to a close, but before waxing that bikini line and heading for the beach, take note: The big rooms are saving the best for last.
The finale for the Algonquin’s august Oak Room season features music so sublime it must not be missed. A whole night of Irving Read More