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Dawn Derow

Cabaret they say is a dying bred and for the most part it is like you have entered somebody’s therapy session, which is not my taste. It was with trepidation, that I ventured out to the Laurie Beechman Theatre to see Dawn Derow’s My Ship: Songs From 1941. Under the direction of Jeff Harner and musical director the late great Barry Levitt or “The Little Skipper, her Captain,”Dawn Derow’s show exceeds and changed my opinion of cabaret singers. This isn’t just a cabaret, but a fabulous one women show.

Dawn Derow

Starting with a terrific film montage of the era created by Michael Stever, the amazing Ian Herman Trio treated us to a exciting rendition of Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train”.

Dawn Derow

Enter Dawn Derow, looking like Alice Faye with rolled hair, a dress from the era, complete with crinoline, seamed stockings, glittery heels, her grandmother’s lace, fingerless gloves and a purse passed down from generations. Taking on a sultry longing to Billie Holiday’s “Lover man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)” written by Jimmy Davis, Roger (“Ram”) Ramirez & James Sherman, Derow leaned subtly on the wall, letting us know, what we were in for. This is a show of passion both for the era, but it’s music. 

Derow is comfortable on stage, as she immediately introduces us to her musicians. Based on nautical terms, on the starboard side is bass player Tom Hubbard. On the port side drummer Daniel Glass and at the helm leading the way on piano, Ian Herman.

Dawn Derow

1941 takes on a new meaning, with it’s treasure trove of material, as we are taken down a trip into the WWII era. Hey a two drink minimum was only $1.50 then!, and with that we bounce into a medley of “Let’s Get Away From It All” (Matt Denis/Tom Adair) and “How About You?” (Burton Lane/Ralph Freed).

Dawn Derow

This show is well paced with as many uptempo’s as there are ballads. Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer’s “Skylark” had a longing that broke your heart. What is most impressive, is these arrangements go in new and exciting places, that just make sense. What it does is makes these standard songs open up in a new and exciting way.

A 1941 show wouldn’t be complete without a Andrews Sisters melody. Here we get #1 and #4 from Billboard’s 1941 top 100 list. A swinging “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (Don Raye/Hughie Prince) and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)” (Lew Brown/ Sam Stept/Charlie Tobias).

Another top billboard song from 1941 at #65, was the novelty song “Hut Sut Song (A Swedish Serenade)” (Leo V. Killion/Ted McMichael/ Jack Owens). With nonsensical lyrics, shockingly Derow got the audience to sing it with her. Now that’s impressive.

The title song of the show “My Ship” by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin, has never been a favorite song of mine, but with this arrangement Derow made the lyrics pop. Derow’s smooth vocals made this a lilting tantalizing yearning of a women waiting for her soldier to come home.

Dawn Derow

I have always loved the theme from DumboWhen I See An Elephant Fly” with music & lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington. Dumbo was released on October 23, 1941. In 1941 M&M’s were invented. During the war, the candies were exclusively sold to the military. Derow again engages the audience, as she opens her purse to gift the audience member who know these little known facts.

Dawn Derow

Mack Gordon/Harry Warren’s “Chatanooga Choo Choo” is one of the highlights of the night. In this show there are several. Derow turns this piece into a seduction with a fabulous lead in. Suddenly The Laurie Beechman got just a little hotter as Derow lures, cajoles, tempts, entices and beguiles. Back to innocents, Duke Ellington/Lee Gaines’ “Just Squeeze Me” becomes another form of wanting, and of desperate longing.

Another highlight was Duke Ellington/Paul Frances Webster’s “I Got It Bad (and that Ain’t Good)”. This song was emotionally riveting and again, went places musically, that just made it that more interesting.

And then there was Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer’s  “Blues in The Night”, that just got bluer. Sometimes a show has just one highlight, but at this point there are four and I am in music heaven.

Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin are back with “The Saga of Jenny” from Lady in the Dark.

Then with a nostalgic touch Irving Berlin’s iconic “White Christmas” which was first performed by Bing Crosby on The Kraft Music Hall, Christmas day 1941, 18 days after Pearl Harbor, takes on a sentimental warmth. Again Derow gets the audience to join with her and I couldn’t help feeling the same pangs of loss for the people who lost their lives on the bike path.

Showing off her operatic chops Walter Kent/Nat Burton’s “The White Cliffs of Dover” soared. We were told the story of Elizabeth and Frederick Noble who met as the war began. They married, and 70 years later, died within days of each other in 2011. We hear a letter from the young soldier to his bride full of love and hope.

The show I saw was benefit for Barry Levitt who on September 19, as he finished a rehearsal with Dawn Derow for this show, was standing at the bar, when he collapsed and fell to the floor from a massive heart attack. With him were Dawn, Michael Stever, Richard Skipper, Tom Hubbard and Jeff Harnar. Dawn rushed to Barry’s side as manager Kenny Bell called 911. Dawn and friend Sheri Newman administered CPR (along with a waitress from the restaurant upstairs) waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Barry was taken by ambulance to Mt. Sinai West. He did not regain consciousness and passed away on September 21 at the age of 70.

Derow’s “At Last” (Mack Gordon/Harry Warren) was an emotional send off to Barry, thanking him and loving him and it was a powerful end to one amazingly crafted and performed show.

Dawn Derow, Barry Levitt

Barry Levitt, Jeff Harnar and Derow made an incredible team with the writing, direction and the new and exciting arrangements that made songs from the past seem present and new again. This is a show not to be missed and should have a long standing run in a room either in a hotel or cabaret house. Dawn Derow’s My Ship: Songs From 1941  is not just a cabaret, but a exquisite one women show that transcends time and place.

Dawn Derow’s My Ship: Songs From 1941: The Laurie Beechman Theatre, November 29th at 7pm and in February (stay tune for time and date.)

 

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Cabaret

Finding Words for Spring 

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And who better to lead a search like this than every lyricist’s best friend, the incomparable Steve Ross!  Dressed all in green like a musical Pied Piper, Steve began our adventure with “Mountain Greenery”, one of the best examples of the verbal dexterity of Larry Hart.  Having arrived in this luscious verdancy, Steve highlighted the ever-clever Alan Jay Lerner by slowing his delivery a tad so we could savor every word in “Hurry, It’s Lovely Up Here”.  Those words, like all that Steve served up, deserved the attention he gave them. It’s amazing that even though one has heard a song many times, a thoughtful delivery can reveal more than had been realized. Johnny Mercer had his moment for admiration with “I’m Old Fashioned”, which curiously has the hallmarks of a lyric by Oscar Hammerstein.   

Mr. H. joined the party when Steve made “Younger Than Springtime” sound so full of yearning yet with a touch of sorrow.  Steve’s patter is always welcome for not only his wry humor but his instructive sensibility. He related how when Oscar Hammerstein declined the opportunity to write the lyrics for Annie, Get Your Gun, the torch was handed to Irving Berlin. He eagerly stepped up to the proverbial plate and in true Berlin fashion grand-slammed yet another terrific score. The contemporary of Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, dropped by with his “We’ll Gather Lilacs”, a wistful song that evoked the hopeful longing of the WW II years. 

A personal highlight was Steve’s rendition of “Send in the Clowns”—not a song evoking Spring, for sure, but one that deals with the complications that can ensue in falling in love.  Steve’s attention to one word in the lyric made the sardonic pathos of the situation almost palpable. (No, I won’t reveal the word—you must hear it for yourself next time!) And such is the magic of Steve Ross. He sprinkled this magical evening with several songs made famous by Fred Astaire and others in films which rounded out the evening beautifully. 

Steve swung into optimistic territory with “Make Our Garden Grow” adding a delicate touch of “‘Tis the Gift To be Simple”– a perfect ending to this show. But wait—there was more! He coaxed us into a sing-along to celebrate Eliza Doolittle Day, May 20. How “Lover-ly” it was! 

Any Steve Ross show is worth the time of any aficionado of the Great American Songbook. This show was especially notable. Each lyric shined under Steve’s masterful interpretation, and the entire room was silent throughout—nary a cough or ice-cube tinkle to be found. We were spellbound. If you are in the market for a spa treatment for the heart/soul, catch Steve’s next show. They don’t call him the Crown Prince of Cabaret for nothing! 

 

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Cabaret

My View: Julie Wilson Honored By The Mabel Mercer Foundation at The Pierre Hotel

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Cabaret luminaries, supporters, and officers of The Mabel Mercer Foundation gathered at The Pierre Hotel last night to celebrate the100th anniversary of the birth year of cabaret legend Julie Wilson.  Julie’s dominant presence in the cabaret world over the many decades led her to be called “The Queen of Cabaret”. Cabaret’s current guiding light, KT Sullivan, the artistic director of The Mabel Mercer Foundation hosted the evening’s celebration which included a gourmet buffet followed by performances from some of cabaret’s most beloved artists and friends of Julie Wilson.  Entertaining the Gala audience of music connoisseurs and honoring the legacy of Julie Wilson were: Karen Akers, Carole J. Bufford, Melissa Errico, Jeff Harnar, Sue Matsuki, MOIPEI ( Mary, Maggy & Marta), Sidney Myer, Craig Rubano, KT Sullivan and Amra-Faye Wright…. John Weber (piano) and Steve Doyle (Bass).

An especially emotional moment of the evening was actor Holt McCallany (son of Julie Wilson) paying tribute to his mother and singing “I’m Becoming My Mother”.

HOLT McCALLANY (son of Julie Wilson)

KT SULLIVAN, artistic director The Mabel Mercer Foundation

KT SULLIVAN

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

JEFF HARNAR

JEFF HARNAR

SUE MATSUKI

SUE MATSUKI

CRAIG RUBANO

CRAIG RUBANO

KAREN AKERS

KAREN AKERS

SIDNEY MYER

SIDNEY MYER

AMRA-FAYE WRIGHT

AMRA-FAYE WRIGHT

HOLT McCALLANY

HOLT McCALLANY

HOLT McCALLANY (son of Julie Wilson)

MOIPEI

MOIPEI

PATRICK McENROE, KT SULLIVAN,MELISSA ERRICO,MOIPEI

HOLT McCALLANY & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

MOIPEI & HOLT McCALLANY

EDA SOROKOFF & ELIZABETH SULLIVAN (Happy 94th Birthday)

MELISSA ERRICO PATRICK McENROE, KT SULLIVAN

JEFF HARNAR & MOIPEI

HEATHER SULLIVAN, HOWARD MORGAN, Chairman of the board Mabel Mercer Foundation, ELANOR MORGAN

KT SULLIVAN, ELIZABETH SULLIVAN, HEATHER SULLIVAN,Dr. Patrick Sullivan

KT SULLIVAN

KT SULLIVAN, PETER HANSON, Linda Hanson

EDA SOROKOFF & CRHRISTEL IBSEN

MONAH GETTNER,KT SULLIVAN, ALAN GETTNER

BRIAN KALTNER, Board Member Mabel Mercer Foundation & DEBBIE DAMP

HOWARD MORGAN, KT SULLIVAN, CAROLE J. BUFFORD,MOIPEI, MATHEW INGE

PATRICK McENROE & MELISSA ERRICO

KT SULLIVAN & STEPHEN SOROKOFF

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Cabaret

Karen Mason and Louis Rosen

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Karen Mason and Louis Rosen met back in the 70s in Chicago. Karen was a young singer accompanied by a the incomparable pianist-songwriter Brian Lasser. He was close friends with guitarist, pianist-songwriter, Louis Rosen. Mason and Lasser moved to New York and two years later Rosen was there as well. A little over ten years later Lasser died of AIDS. Rosen and Mason have made sure that Lasser’s music is remembered.

Karen Mason

Louis Rosen

Mason and Rosen are back together again celebrating nearly 50 years of collaboration and friendship. The evening is stripped down bare with Rosen on guitar and piano and Mason and Rosen on vocals. Most of the material is Rosen’s songs many from his most recent albums, but added are a few selections by  Lasser, that make you know he died way to soon.

Karen Mason

Louis Rosen

Rosen’s music is what singer/songwriters use to write, full of blues riffs, uplifting swing, folk melodies, jazz cadences and soulful powerful lyrics. It is like an old soul left their words to impart. This night so made me want to hear his newest album “Love and Ashes”. Rosen is a musicians musician.

“A master interpreter… Mason produces a depth of sound and brilliance of color that converge in the work of very few singers!” (Chicago Tribune)

Mason has an authenticity to her voice. She is a storyteller, rich in tone and truly excels on Lasser’s music. She is a belter at heart, but Rosen’s music has her venerable and exposed, which is a new side to her art.

It is always wonderful to watch two artists collaborate,

Luba Mason and Karen Mason

Louis Rosen

Karen Mason and Louis Rosen: Ages Since the Last Time: Chelsea Table + Stage, 152 West 26th Street.

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Cabaret

My View: Why CAN’T A Woman…? This Woman Can…Lianne Marie Dobbs

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The actor Lianne Marie Dobbs played a 1900’s woman in the HBO series The Gilded Age. You also might have seen her in Law & Order, The Equalizer and F.B.I., but yesterday at Chelsea Tables + Stage she wasn’t just playing the part of a Cabaret singer!  Ms. Dobbs is the real deal, and she captivated an audience of music connoisseurs with her formidable vocal talents and wit in her show titled “Why CAN’T a Woman…? 

Lianne’s cabaret act utilizes Broadway leading men’s songs and sassy standards, served up with a twist of SHE, to celebrate all the hats that women wear, and she answered the shows question authoritatively….This woman sure can!

Lianne Marie Dobbs was named one of the Best Vocalists of the Decade (BroadwayWorld, 2020) and has filled The Green Room 42, 54Below, Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael, Feinstein’s at the Nikko, Blue Strawberry in St. Louis, and will be featured in Chicago’s Cabaret Week later in May.  “Why CAN’T a Woman…?” was named one of the best cabaret shows of the year (2022) by BroadwayWorld, and called “an honest to goodness emerging work of art”.  She has appeared in leading roles Off-Broadway, in National Tours, and at renowned theaters such as Denver Center, Repertory of St. Louis, Ogunquit Playhouse, Goodspeed and many more.

Ron Abel is Lianne’s music director and arranger, whose accolades include: LA Critics Circle Award Winner and L.A. Weekly Award Winner for his original compositions and unique arrangements of Broadway hits for orchestras and singers. He has been the music director for acclaimed vocalists such as Lucie Arnaz, Peter Allen, Joely Fisher, Valarie Pettiford, Julia Migenes, Helen Reddy, and John Lloyd Young.

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & RON ABEL

CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE

CHELSEA TABLE + STAGE

STANDING OVATION

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS

LIANNE MARIE DOBBS & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

PAUL KREPPEL, RON ABEL, EDA SOROKOFF, MURPHY CROSS

EDA SOROKOFF & TAKAKO HARKNESS

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Cabaret

My View: The City Was Special Last Night….Melissa Errico at 54 Below

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The evening at 54 Below was advertised as a “ Vinyl Release Celebration Concert” and how apt that VINYL, the unrivaled substance utilized to capture the subtle nuances and breadth of music has now been used to capture the elegant voice of Melissa Errico singing the songs of  “Sondheim in the City” for posterity. 

Caveat: While Vinyl may capture in analog glory the beautiful notes and words of Melissa, one must be in her presence to experience her irrepressible beauty, wit, and intelligence on stage.

Melissa Errico….Sondheim In The City Vinyl Release Celebration at 54 Below May 7,8,9…..

Tedd Firth Music Director, David Finck (Bass), Eric Halvorson (Drums) Bruce Harris (Trumpet)

About the show:

After the critical triumph of her Sondheim Sublime album-called “the finest all Sondheim recording ever made” by the Wall Street Journal, Melissa Errico returned to one of her cabaret homes (54 Below) last night and to her favorite songwriter with an entire new program of Sondheim songs, celebrating her new album (released February 16, 2024 on Concord) and a different side of Steve, praised in The New York Times as “a New York house tour of thrill and heartbreak..from one of Sondheim’s deepest-hearted yet lightest-touch interpreters.”

Sondheim in the City is the Sondheim of smart, sophisticated New York, the Sondheim of the quick, witty, sardonic, love-seeking and sex-driven city that he recorded and worked in through his long life. From the anthem of city busyness “Another Hundred People” to the bittersweet hymns of city marriage, “Sorry, Grateful” and “Good Thing Going,” with time for hardboiled surprises like “Uptown, Downtown” and surprisingly soft-centered ballads like “All That I Need” and “Dawn”

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO & TEDD FIRTH, music director

54 Below, Eda Sorokoff

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