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Tag Archives: cabaret

Shot Out Of A Cannon

The first person who dropped an olive into a martini or mixed chocolate with peanut butter?  They got nothing on Jim Caruso, who dreamed up the musical partnering of Aaron Weinstein and Christine Ebersole.  Birdland was packet to the rafters last night for this musically stunning, and very funny, cabaret of standards and bebop.

The premise of the show is Mr. Weinstein’s assertion that the violin is the instrument closest to the human voice.  The evening was ostensibly an array of duets featuring Mr. Weinstein’s violin (and electric mandolin!) and Ms. Ebersole’s voice.  The melding was such that on three separate occasions, I searched for Ms. Ebersole’s back-up singers.  Suffice it to say, Mr. Weinstein was right.

Perhaps upon first glance, one might be inclined to see more differences than similarities in this pairing.  Ms. Ebersol (Grey Gardens, 42nd Street) is a Tony award winning Broadway, film and television actress. She has some very impressive experience under her fashionable belt.   Mr. Weinstein (b.1985) is somewhat new to the scene.  Often compared to Groucho Marx, his stage presence and banter belie his age. The genius in this pairing is both musical and personal.  Never have any two people had such fun performing together!  They are both some of the best in their musical class and possess a delightful dry wit.  But oh, it’s their music.

Each time I have seen Mr. Weinstein perform, I am bowled over.  Perhaps jazz violin has been played like this before, but not in my recollection.   Ms. Ebersole is in ridiculously splendid voice.  She growled, purred, soared and even did a little Borscht Belt ditty.  Looking gorgeous and at ease, she confessed that after only two days of rehearsal, she felt shot out of a cannon.  Nothing about this show felt rushed or thrown together.  The evening was a lovely balance of (very funny) repartee and a gorgeous collection of incredibly interpreted music.  A great deal of care was taken to steer clear of any hint of a star solo act.  Ms. Ebersole seemed tickled to share the stage and spotlight and it payed off wonderfully.

As much as their beautiful music is still playing in my mind, its the beauty of the collaboration itself which will stay with me.  How wonderfully creative to pair these two, and what spectacular results!  Producing a creative show which artistically takes a chance will always get a standing ovation from me.

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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Finding My Corner Of The Sky

Last night, for the third consecutive year, I visited with Betty Buckley at Feinsteins  The year’s show, billed as “Ah Men! The Boys of Broadway” is a collection of Ms. Buckley favorite show tunes (from film and stage) sung by male characters.  She opens, aptly, with ‘Tonight’, and goes on to explain her discovery of Riff (Russ Tamblyn) at the impressionable age of 14.  Having also experienced West Side Story at the age of 14, I can attest to the imprint it leaves.  Add to that the discovery of both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly (as Ms Buckley and I both did) and well, can real life really ever compare?

It did last night.

Whether it is her chosen repertoire, or her Feinstein alumni status, Ms. Buckley has never seemed more at home.  Radiant in a silk shantung jacket, flowing silk pants, and leopard pumps devilishly peeking out from time to time, Ms Buckley communicates accessibility.  As a Broadway leading lady, with few if any equals, this Texas gal exudes a warmth and approachability that defies any (rightfully earned) diva-ship.  Also counter to diva-hood, is that Ms. Buckley, for all her Tony winning, has the soul of a folk singer.  She is a singer (and actress) adept at navigating all range of human emotion.  Her natural velvety voice can ache (reminding me of Jane Olivor) and then easily soar to heights of joy, making all the necessary stops along the way.  I wonder which comes first?  A delicate actress with a powerful core, or the singer?  I suspect that there is no separating the two in Betty Buckley.  She is so unique, that if your first exposure to a song is delivered by Ms. Buckley, it never really sounds “right” sung by anyone else (e.g., Meadowlark, Memory, score of Sunset Boulevard, etc.)

I have maintained that so many of the best songs written have been done so for male characters.  So it is no coincidence that I simply loved last night’s song list.  ‘I Won’t Dance,’ ‘Younger Than Springtime,’ ‘Something’s Coming,’ ‘Corner of the Sky,’ ‘More I Cannot Wish You,’ and an exquisite medley from ‘Sweeney Todd’ were just some of the selections.  Her smooth, strong and subtle voice, paired with her utter ease on stage, created the most intimate experience.  Making strong eye contact with the audience, she created a space that was more ‘living room’ than ‘cabaret.’  Which, truly is the mark of great cabaret.  I was also struck by her very enjoyable sense of humor.  I found myself thinking (please don’t hate me Ms. Buckley): “Wow, she would really be a great Miss Hannigan.”

This personal, moving, absolutely fabulous show will be playing for the month of October.  It truly is not to be missed.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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