Reviewed by Joe Regan Jr.
On December 11 at 7 pm, Winter Rhythms 2012 presented two wonderful Broadway performers in cabaret. Supported by the Barry Levitt Trio which featured the terrific musicians Jon Burr on bass and Jerome Jennings on drums and percussion, the performance produced by Peter Napolitano and artistic director Frances Hill to benefit arts education, offered two sublime artists, Andrea Frierson and Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox (Doubt), each of the women offering a seamless first class cabaret act.
Up first was Frierson whose Broadway credits include Marie Christine, The Lion King, Juan Darien, Once on This Island and The Me Nobody Knows. Her first number was a rhythmic “Cheek to Cheek” which demonstrated that she knows when to croon the lyrics and when to belt them. She explained that she had taken a hiatus from performing and concentrated on writing songs in the BMI Workshop and she sang one of her extraordinary originals that she wrote with Robby Stamper. A wild blues by Georgia Stitt was entitled “Before I Lost My Mind.” Frierson gave us a fully dramatic acting performance of the cabaret staple Susan Werner‘s “A Movie of My Life,” and a stunning version of “I Got It Bad” which showcased her amazing range with great support from the musicians. Frierson closed with a great song from Once on This Island that she introduced in the show, “Human Heart.”
Adriane Lenox, who won a Tony for her Broadway dramatic performance in Proof, but has appeared on Broadway in musicals like Dream Girls, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Chicago, The Gershwi’’s Fascinatin’ Rhythm, Kiss Me Kate and Caroline or Change followed Frierson with a rocking blues number. In an Afro and sleek pants, she slithered all over the stage encouraging the musicians to keep up with her. Lenox and Levitt explained that several years ago, when he did a Lyrics and Lyricist at the Y, they had worked together on songs from RKO films. She explained that she had appeared in Ain’t Misbehavin for many performances on Broadway and on the road but decided to do a song from that show that she didn’t sing in performance. With the lilting verse, Lenox did a soft swinging version of “I Got a Feeling I’m Falling.” She discussed how she had just added some Cole Porter to her repertoire this summer and then did a pulsating “Love For Sale” followed by a stunning “Prisoner of Love” (Russ Columbo-Clarence Gaskill-Leo Robin). She went back to Cole Porter and did a wonderful medley of “Night and Day,” (the verse only), “You Do Something To Me,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and then back to the chorus of “Night and Day.” It was real tour de force and she gave each selection her great acting and singing chops, singing directly to the audience.
Lenox turned around and did an aggressively sexy “Handy Man” with all its sly double entendres. She then switched gears and her closing was an inspirational gospel number, “Ordinary People.”
What a great show these two artists gave us, never self-indulgent and always singing directly to us.
The Winter Rhythms series continues at Urban Stages, 259 West 30 Street (between 7th and 8th Avenue) through December 15 with two shows every night, one at 7 PM and one at 9 PM except for Saturday, December 15 when the show begins at 5 PM. Coming up are programs featuring Bill Zeffiro’s Birthday Tribute to Frank Sinatra, Marissa Mulder, Mary Liz McNamara, the songs of Richard Eisenberg, the songs of Douglas J. Cohen, Erin Cronican. Saturday, December 15 is a special program From All of Us to All of You: Seasonal Songs and Disney Too featuring Raissa Katona Bennett, Carole J. Bufford, Bob Diamond, Jack Donahue, Cleve Douglass, Lauren Fox, Daryl Glenn, Helena Grenot, Marissa Mulder, Sidney Myer, Alison Nussbaum, Christine Pedi, Barbara Porteus, T.Oliver Reid, Gretchen Reinhagen, Ricky Ritzel, Adam Shapiro and many more! That’s a lot of cabaret names and I would suggest you call 212-421-138 to reserve. It’s a jewel box of a theatre and they do take Credit Cards.