Astaire and Rogers: Cheek to Cheek – 54 Below
NY Music Review by Susan Hasho
Steve Ross has met his match—at least in the Fred and Ginger sense of the word. Ross and Karen Oberlin appeared at 54 Below, June 11th in an evening called Astaire and Rogers: Cheek to Cheek. Karen Oberlin is blonde, beautiful and sings like a dream. The inimitable, dapper and charming Steve Ross, on stage with blonde and beautiful Karen Oberlin, may appear like a central caster’s dream; but once they duet their way through the beginning: Cheek to Cheek, I Won’t Dance, and Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, it’s clear that they are vocally perfect as well. The direction by Walter Willison is smart and subtle allowing each artist ample space to perform separately as well as together so that the audience gets the best of all worlds.
Steve Ross is famous for his sensitive and unique interpretation of a lyric and in the song I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan (Dietz & Schwartz), he brought soul and jazz to the mix as well. In the song After You (Cole Porter), dear Mr. Ross brought an incisive sweetness to a song not often heard. “After you, who could I love? After you, why should I take the time to try, For who else could qualify After you, who?”
Karen Oberlin provided an elegant sass and humor to the Ginger Rogers side of the duo: I’ll String Along with You, Don’t Mention Love to Me (Dorothy Fields & Oscar Levant) ” I’m overpowered but I’m not a coward…” both sung seated at the piano; and I’ll Be Hard to Handle, sung while moving through the audience, were all performed with sexy confidence and gorgeous style.
Steve then treated the audience to a perfect slice of musical heaven: Begin the Beguine, Puttin’ on the Ritz, Stepping Out with My Baby, and Night and Day.
He brought Karen back to the stage with My Shining Hour (Mercer, Arlen)—a very romantic way to reintroduce a partner. They sat at the piano together for Syncopated Walk, Only When You’re in My Arms, You’re Here and I’m Here, which added a casual intimacy to the evening so perfect for Astaire and Rogers.
Are you getting the feeling you should see them? Yes! They will be back Thursday July 17th at 7:00pm. Tap shoes optional.
Tickets & information 646-476-3551 – 54 Below 254 W 54th Street Cellar New York, NY