A Very Warm and Wonderful Cabaret Assemblage For PopsEd

Steven Reineke, Faith Prince

 

 

by Myra Chanin

 

Champions of the New York Pops, gathered at Feinstein’s/54Below this week to eat, drink, be merry and allow the orchestra’s good works to continue to thrive by supporting PopsEd’s music education programming which, among other merits, supplies 5000 underserved children with concert tickets, as well as funds for unique residency programs tailored to a specific school’s needs by professional teaching artists, like a beginner trumpet ensemble, a jazz band, a K-2 chorus program. All their projects bolster children’s confidence, self-expression, artistic literacy and supply them with skills that enrich all areas of their lives.

Steven Reineke, the tall, handsome, mellifluous voiced New York Pops Musical Director, opened the program by performing the first piano piece he learned to play, a rippling, lush, melodic Brahms Waltz. LaGuardia High School student Mariagrazia Giusto lauded Honoree Will Hakim, her former Brooklyn Middle school — IS 318 — music teacher, for his skill as well as his importance in her life for presenting her with the option of choosing to play the oboe, which in her case turned out to be an instrument which only blew good. Auctioneer, NYPops Board Member Bill Sullivan, gently persuaded more than half the attendees to stop eating Feinstein’s viands long enough to wave their credit cards in the air and contribute from $7500 to $100 to support these programs.

 

Faith Prince

 

Their reward for their generosity? PopsEd enriched their lives by linking them with Tony-winner Faith Prince via an intimate hour with a singer, actor, comedienne who is an endearing, exciting performer with striking style, delivery, talent and wit, who is “proud to come from Lynchburg, and equally proud to have gotten out.” She was ably accompanied on piano by Alex Rybeck.

Ms. Prince won the 1992 Tony for her Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and was nominated thrice more for starring roles in Bells are Ringing, A Catered Affair and Jerome Robbins Broadway, plus once for her comic non-singing role in one of the greatest farces ever written, Noises Off.

She launched her show with a diverse and lively Broadway Medley – Sondheim’s “Broadway Baby” from Follies, Loesser’s “Adelaide’s Lament” from Guys and Dolls and “The Other Side of the Tracks” from Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh’s Little Me –a song Sondheim once admitted he wished he’d written, before moving off-Broadway to humorously singing “Doin’ It The Hard Way,” made famous by madcap movie star Betty Hutton and ending with Dave Frishburg’s sad, sexy and seductive “Sweet Kentucky Ham.” Whatta quintet!

So much for the past. Ms. Prince revealed and reveled in the present with a monolog from a budding new play called “Cake,” in which she, a rigid TV baker, cautions her viewers to follow the baking rules and instructions – don’t stint and substitute cheaper ingredient – before segueing into a Nasty Woman Medley which opened with Mrs. Lovett’s “The Worst Pies in London,” a role Ms. Prince has played, Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from Disney’s A Little Mermaid, ditto, and closed with “Little Girl” from Mean Girls, a role she has not yet been offered but should be.

Steven Reineke

 

Her songs and tales about co-starring with Jack Jones in On A Clear Day, are LOL funny; Jones specialized in singing only the titles of his songs in a show like “Come Back to Me” to her trepidation, but the engagement had a real upside and a real engagement. There was a trumpet player in the band, who kept looking up at the stage, making her wonder if he was looking at Jones or her. After the show, she discovered he was looking at her. His name was Larry Lunette, and they’ve been together and married for 31 years. Cheers from the audience ensued. Everybody loves a happy ending.

Kander and Ebb’s “The World Goes Round” concluded the show, but only for a minute or two before Ms. Prince reappeared to reveal her comic persona again in Sondheim’s “The Boy From…” Ms. Prince took her final well-deserved bow for the evening with Bernstein, Comden and Green’s “Some Other Time” to huge applause.

Faith Prince may have arrived as a stranger to some of the folks in the audience, but when she left they were all family.

 

Photos: Genevieve Rafter Keddy

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