Steve Ross on Broadway
By: Sandi Durell
When I think about writing a review about Steve Ross, it’s akin to writing a review for Marilyn Maye. Now that I’ve used every superlative and adjective known to mankind, what can I say?
In his latest elegant and sophisticated interpretation at Birdland on July 27th, Mr. Ross, once again, proved why he will never relinquish his much deserved crown as he spent 90 minutes at the piano giving bountiful pleasure to a packed house on a trip up and down the Great White Way beginning with an obscure tune from Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen (Underwood/Freeman) “Call Me Back” (call me flash in the pan, trash in the can but . . . Call Me Back), opening a night of joyful songs from Cole Porter patter (“Nobody’s Chasing Me” from Out of This World 1950) to delicious Gershwin (Sweet and Low-Down, Fascinating Rhythm, Soon) and more.
The always haunting refrains of Kurt Weill – “Here I’ll Stay” (music by Alan Jay Lerner from Love Life 1948) was juxtaposed with a novelty written in 1943 with Ogden Nash lyrics from One Touch of Venus – “How Much I Love You” – love you more than a wasp can sting, more than a grapefruit squirts . . . (talk about patter words!)
Bob Merrill’s enticingly lovely 1961 Carnival produced some of the most luscious songs including “Mira” and “Always You,” enhanced by the grandeur of sound and style of Mr. Ross. At one point, I thought Rudy Vallee had been reincarnated for the occasion.
There were so many highlights but one that immediately comes to mind is Yip Harburg/Jacques Offenbach’s 1961 poignant ballad “Adrift On A Star” from The Happiest Girl in the World.
A well thought out pairing of Jerry Herman’s “Kiss Her Now (Dear World-1968) and Kander & Ebb’s “Nowadays (Chicago – 1975) was filled with wondrous piano swirls.
No show is ever complete without a Sondheim tune that included “Buddy’s Blues” from Follies 1971, leading into the introduction of guest artist, Lilliane Montevecchi looking svelte and sexy as they dueted on Lerner & Loewe’s 1973 “I Remember It Well” (Gigi), then giving the very dramatic Ms. Montevecchi her moment in the spotlight performing “Bonjour, Amour,” reprising her Broadway role from Maury Yeston’s 1989 Grand Hotel.
More fun and novelty patter was in store with “Unrequited Lover’s March”(New Faces of 1968, Ronny Graham) followed by some of the most romantic songs ever written “Falling In Love With Love (The Boys From Syracuse – Rodgers & Hart, 1938); “All The Things You Are “(Very Warm For May, Hammerstein/Kern – 1939); “My Heart Is So Full of You” (Most Happy Fella, Loesser 1956) – each reinterpreted with a magic that only a Prince can bring to an entrancing, enthralling evening of song.
Yes, we did call him back for more as the evening came to a close all to soon.
Accompanying on bass was Jesse Bielenberg.
The audience read like a who’s who of Broadway including Joan Copeland, Lee Roy Reams, Joe Sirola and more.