Cabaret Scenes Benefit
A Splendid Show for The Invaluable Publication
by Alix Cohen
Tuesday night The Metropolitan Room hosted a benefit for the only magazine, in fact the only print venue that supports cabaret. I wish I could tell you the room was packed.While cover was inadvisably high ($35 was the low end), the club gave Cabaret Scenes 100% of it. The fact that people whose only recognition comes from these pages didn’t turn out in numbers to support it is frankly distressing. The show itself, hosted by Editor-in-Chief, Frank Dain with descriptive introductory quotes, was excellent. (Musical Director- Yasukiko Fukuoka.)
Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano opened with several numbers neatly woven together by Comstock’s deft arrangements. The couple’s rendition of “Broadway” (Teddy McRae/ Bill Baird/Henri Wood) arrived with a capella harmony and counterpoint epitomizing established finesse. Fasano’s effective retard was showcased in Carolyn Leigh/Philip Springer’s “How Little We Know” while Comstock’s skateboarding piano took flight during Leigh and Cy Coleman’s “Witchcraft.”
Every sentiment of “A Certain Smile” was communicated with tenderness by Frank Dain’s utterly lovely version. I swear his eyes sparked with emotion. (Paul Francis Webster/
Sammy Fain.) Commitment was equally apparent in both Carolyn Montgomery Forant’s “The Babysitter’s Here” (Dar Williams) –Jeff Cubeta-piano, and “Song of Black Max (Aaron Weinstein) as performed by Kim David Smith- showing one doesn’t need a love song to create palpable credibility. Montgomery Forant personified a ten year-old’s petulance and delight (we saw what she saw), while Smith related a gothic tale with expression worthy of Grand Guignol. HIs emphasized “iccchhhh” could draw blood.
New to me, Amorika Amoroso, the 2016 winner of Don’t Tell Mama’s Next Big Act, delivered Aretha Franklin/Ted White’s “Dr. Feelgood” with right-on, r & b attitude beyond her years. The vocalist’s gritty, unleashed belt-and-withdraw made a meal of the lyric, each inflection on target.
Joshua Lance Dixon, whom I’ve seen appreciably better, sang a tandem “Experiment” (Cole Porter) and “White Rabbit” (Grace Slick) with too much heft and volume to benefit either song. I had the same issue with Tanya Moberly’s “Haiku,” an amusing number by Liz McNamara which should have been light and wry but emerged in red hot mama mode.
“I Was Here” (Lynn Ahrens/Steve Flaherty from The Glorious Ones) found Eric Michel Gillett in robust, frisson-evoking voice. Daniel Lincoln-piano. Sharing the song that brought the house down in her debut show, Celia Berk offered an impeccable, theatrical version of “Yiddisha Nightingale.” Years after its first performance, the artist continues to imbue this with utter authenticity and charm- not a given. (Irving Berlin-based on Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro”/ “Oy Veh, Mayn Liber Tate” by Binyumen Schaechter)
The show closed with Karen Mason’s signature “As If We Never Said Goodbye”(Don Black/Christopher Hampton/Andrew Lloyd Webber from Sunset Boulevard.) Mason has covered for three Norma Desmonds, here inhabiting the role like an old fur coat, once gorgeous, now moth-eaten. She’s hopeful, proud, angry, despairing. “I am big, the pictures got small,” Desmond intoned. Mason is big, the stage is small. Wowza.
February 7, 2017
The Metropolitan Room
Photos: Maryann Lopinto