Bernie Furshpan Celebrates 30 x 2 in Style!
by Sandi Durell
Shhh! Bernie Furshpan, owner/manager of the famed Metropolitan Room, thought he was fooling everyone - 30 x 2 - clever! Well, he surely looks much younger than 60, but maybe that's because he's married to the gorgeous Joanne who keeps him young and in love . . . in case you haven't noticed that forever smile on his face! And so this birthday was celebrated by myriads of cabaret friends and family on February 13th, a day sooner than his actual birthday - February 14th. There's something about having a birthday on Valentine's Day that is special and in Bernie's case . . . just that much more special . . . a man whose heart and soul are filled with love which he generously gives to so many.
The talent who wished him well was a who's who list of comics and singers accompanied (in most part) by maestro Barry Levitt on piano and his trio (Jon Burr on bass and Howard Gordon on drums). Opening the evening was reporter Kelly Wright (a really fine R & B singer) with "Feelin' Good" to introduce the man of the hour, Bernie Furshpan - violin in hand readying to play the Shapiro wedding ala Henny Youngman! This is a great comedy routine of Youngman specials of which 'take my wife, please' is a very small part. For those who don't know, Bernie was a successful chiropractor and stand up comic before he went into the nightclub business.
Warren Schein had many jokes ready and an Al Jolson special medley of "Swanee/Sonny Boy/April Showers/Toot Toot Tootsie" that he brilliantly shared; Bryon Sommers played and sang his own "There's A Party Going On;" and the mother of all mothers - Anita Gillette - that sexy broad, after a French joke, sang "Are You Having Any Fun?" to the man of the hour. Charlie McPhee (who opens for Seinfeld) wow'd with some humorous contemporary-political jokes and Denise Span Morgan raised the roof (with Bryon Sommers on piano) wailing on "You Are So Beautiful" (from Bernie to Joanne).
Brian Gari played and sang his own "Friends for Life" while rising young star Charlie Roma (in hot red jacket with matching bowtie) gave Frankie Liman a run for his money with "Goody Goody." Impressionist Bob Greenberg began as the jewish Hitchcock, ending as Jackie Gleason (with Lou Costello, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy sandwiched in between). Young starlet Kayla (with Bobby DeLeon on piano) changed the pace with"Nessun dorma" (None shall sleep), a popular aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's Turandot.
Comic Jeff Gurian added some funny lines to the evening; Ann Dawson sang "How About You" (with special lyrics); Joey Infante sang and moved to Kumbachero with style and panache, and Richard Pryor Jr. had "Superstition" on his mind. Friars Club entertainment director Bob Spiotto offered up an old PT Barnum song "Run Around the Block" and the smooth jazz sounds of Sara Zahn grooved to "Pick Yourself Up. . ."/ On the Sunny Side of the Street." Showman extraordinaire Richard Skipper closed the evening's entertainment big time with "Before the Parade Passes By."
A big beautiful birthday cake was brought into the room by the lovely Joanne Furshpan and shared by all.
Happy Birthday Bernie!
Photos: Maryann Lopinto