Wednesday, January 11, 2017

LIZ SMITH: Cabaret Blooms In Wintry Manhattan

The impressive oeuvre of Bernadette Peters. Good voice, too.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Seth Sikes,  Melinda Hughes, Michael Griffiths — Cabaret Blooms In Wintry Manhattan.  Also, Tyne Daly Honored ... "Food City" Overcrowded With Brilliance ... Rex Reed, still Observing, now online

Time heals everything, Tuesday, Thursday
Time heals everything, April, August
If I'm patient the break will mend
And one fine morning the hurt will end

So make the moments fly, autumn, winter
I'll forget you by next year, some year
Though it's hell that I'm going through
Some Tuesday, Thursday, April, August
Autumn, winter, next year, some year

Time heals everything
Time heals everything
But loving you


All theater mavens worth their salt (and pepper!) know that the above are lyrics from Jerry Herman’s “Time Heals Everything” sung most memorably by Bernadette Peters in Herman’s 1974 masterpiece, “Mack and Mabel.”  (Despite eight Tony nominations, the show closed after only 66 performances.  Since then, in has often been revived, overseas and out of Manhattan. It has grown in stature and is weeping for a NYC revival.)
NOT long ago, I heard this on the radio, and it struck me that if there was ever a song that could serve as a sentimental/hopeful serenade for Hillary Clinton — something to bring a crowd to its feet, cheering and cathartic crying, this was it.

Well, it might happen, if Hillary Rodham Clinton deigns to pop into Feinstein’s/54 Below on February 25th, where the talented and inescapably attractive Seth Sikes “Sings Bernadette Peters.”  Seth, who has made his name and fame singing the big hits and lovely oddities of Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli, will dig into Bernadette’s catalogue and oeuvre.  He’ll learn her songs, too.  
Seth doesn’t try to sound like Liza or Judy (who could?)   He just sings their songs with a lotta emotion, craft and love.  He’ll no doubt do the same for the eternally girlish Broadway diva, Miss Peters. 

And Seth, please do dedicate “Time Heals Everything” to Hillary.
P.S. The very good author Thomas Santopietro (“Considering Doris Day,” “Sinatra in Hollywood”) writes us that he was at “The Color Purple” the other day when Hillary and Bill attended. He reported that  “It was like a rock concert, people were not just applauding Hillary, they were screaming their approval at the top of their lungs.”  Thomas said the emotion was so thick, that it clearly super-primed the audience for the show. “Jennifer Hudson’s big song resulted in a complete standing ovation in the middle of Act One It was quite a memorable afternoon!”
ALSO COMING to Feinstein’s, on February 7th, is one Michael Griffiths.  He’ll present “In Vogue: Songs of Madonna.”  The press release says he’ll do such classic as “Express Yourself, “Into The Groove” and “Vogue.”  But I hope some of the great ballads are included. (“Oh, Father” ... ”Live To Tell” ... ”La Isla Bonita” ... ”Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” ... ”You’ll See” ... ”The Power of Goodbye” ... ”Rain” ... ”Crazy For You” ... even the recent “Ghosttown.”)  
In the end — many, many years from now, please! — I think The Big M’s musically tender side will be better remembered and reassessed than the dance hits or the “controversial” numbers.  Some years ago, I said to her, “You really are such a romantic!”  She replied with no small degree of melancholy: “Listen to the songs. Those are ones that tell my story.” 

For both these hot shows visit www.54Below.com.
MORE CABARET: Two nights only (January 18th and 20th) to catch the delicious Melinda Hughes at The Metropolitan Room.  Some of you might recall her last Manhattan stint, the well-reviewed “An English Girl In New York.”  This new one is titled, “Cheers, Darling!” Although Melinda is trained to knock you out with trilling, thrilling arias from “Aida” and “Madame Butterfly” her cabaret act is more jazz-infused, satiric and Noel Coward-ish. For tix info call 212-206-0440 or go to www.Metropolitanroom.com.
SAVE THE DATE:  On Friday March 17th, that great force of nature, Tyne Daly will be honored at the Gingold Theater Group’s 2017 Golden Shamrock Gala. This will celebrate Ms. Daly, St. Patrick’s Day and George Bernard Shaw. (The Gingold Group is responsible for all the great Shaw productions in NYC in recent years.)  This happens at the 3 West Club (3 West 51st Street); call 212-353-7823.
Click to order “Food City.”
THE book “Food City” so well-reviewed by the New York Times several months ago, has been decorating my coffee table for a while. I had pleasurably been saving this tome, sub-titled “Four Centuries of Food-Making in New York,” for my spare time.

As we know “spare time” seldom comes, so the other night I dug right into this intriguing history of not only food itself, but the story of production of food and its transport in Gotham over four centuries.     

This story is one hell of a delicious entertainment, brilliantly written by the late Joy Santlofer. (Her daughter, Doria, completed the massive work, in honor of her mom.)  It has been vouched for by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Mike Wallace of “Gotham” ... Paul Freedman’s “Ten Restaurants that Changed America” ... The James Beard winner, Laura Schenone, of “A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove” ... and Amy Bentley, author of “Inventing Baby Food.”

This work is rapidly becoming a run-away hit with its revelations of the fall of the gastronomic empire. There are also vital but unappetizing tales of  slavery, immigration, unions, child labor, racial and ethic wars, etc.
Doria with her late mother, Joy.
But the chief thing raising my interest was my partner Denis Ferrara. He is a guy whose tastes run the gamut from the fraught and furious hotbeds of politics, current TV and movies, books of every genre — not to mention his passion for klieg lights, classic show biz lore, Marilyn, Elizabeth, Dietrich, etc. His eye fell on “Food City” and he exclaimed, “Oh, I’ve been dying to read this!”

A greater recommendation was never heard!
Denis (on his Jan 7th, sixty-fourth birthday.) He was so anxious to get into "Food City," I just had to read it!
Liz and Rex.
SHORTLY before the holidays, and after the election, the fabled movie, theater and cabaret scribe, Rex Reed, sent out an email to his many friends and fans, regarding The Observer, the paper he’d long worked for, as it went under as a print entity. (Jared Kushner, publisher of the Observer, had a higher calling.)

But never let it be said that the always sunny and optimistic Rex, couldn’t squeeze lemonade out of lemons.

Here in fact, is his message:

“FRIENDS — I have been severely saddened by the termination of the print edition of the New York Observer, a publication I have appeared in for the past 25 years. But I am happy to tell you I am still writing more reviews than ever — on the Observer website.  The only difference is I am now online. Anyway, it has literally thousands more readers than the print edition of the paper ever had. I am grateful to still be in print at all, only in a different way. 

“So if you are interested or curious enough to want to see what I am doing, I am sending you a link that cuts straight to the chase. Put this link in your column of "Favorites," click on it whenever you want to read a review of mine, and you will bypass the rest of the paper completely and land on my reviews exclusively — including the archives, which access all of the old films and plays and cabaret acts I have reviewed in the past. Here is the link.”

Speaking for ourselves, we couldn’t live without Rex’s expert critiques, whether appearing in a newspaper, written with a feather quill, on papyrus, or online.  Rex makes his pointed point, no matter the process. Long may he write!
 
Contact Liz here.