Michael Feinstein & Barbara Cook are “Cheek to Cheek”By Marilyn Anderson & Dennis L. Lanning | December 6th, 2010 | Category: Entertainment, Theater Reviews | 9 comments
Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, New York Night Club
If you are lucky enough to be in New York between September 7 and October 2nd, 2010 there is a genuine entertainment treat at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency. It’s the unprecedented pairing of two veritable musical legends: Michael Feinstein and Barbara Cook.
Michael Feinstein is the multi-platinum-selling, five-time Grammy-nominated entertainer who has been called “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook.” Michael has appeared in over 150 shows a year, including performances at Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, as well as at the White House and Buckingham Palace.
Michael, as he tells us during the performance, started playing piano as a 5-year-old. He later became Ira Gershwin’s assistant, and performed and recorded many previously unpublished Gershwin songs. He has also written musical scores, designed a new piano for Steinway, and created CDs celebrating Frank Sinatra. His CD with songwriter Jimmy Webb was named one of the “10 Best CDs of the Year” by USA Today.
Tony Award winner Barbara Cook is a true legend of Broadway musical theater. During the “golden age” of musicals of the 1950s and 60s, Barbara was considered “Broadway’s favorite ingénue.” She starred in such classics as “Candide,” “She Loves Me,” and “The Music Man,” for which she won a Tony.
Miss Cook later launched a second career as a recording artist and concert performer. For over 50 years she has been delighting audiences around the world with her silvery soprano tones and warm personality. Barbara’s popularity has continued to thrive, as evidenced by the celebration of her 80th birthday in the fall of 2007 with sold-out concerts with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, a solo concert debut at the Metropolitan Opera, and a triumphant return to Carnegie Hall.
Barbara has won many honors, including the Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk, and New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. She received a citation as a Living New York Landmark, was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, and was named Musical America’s 2007 Vocalist of the Year.
With such accomplished performers, it’s understandable why their teaming up for a show at a New York nightclub is a not-to-be-missed event. What’s even more remarkable about their performance is how charming and personal it is.
Part of the reason it’s such an appealing show is the intimacy the two performers create with their repartee. You feel like you are in a living room listening to close friends–who just happen to be musical legends–shooting the breeze. Their conversation is personal and real, and we feel we are getting to know them.
Barbara reveals her thoughts about famous songwriters and talks about other Tony nominees and how she felt when they won instead of her!
The duo’s patter is sweet and gentle and fun. Of course, it’s their incredible singing and the meaning they impart to the songs that makes it, not just intimate, but exquisite. Each tune is infused with life and love–and the audience revels in it.
Michael and Barbara sing a variety of American Songbook standards from well known composers and lyricists of the 1920’s and 30’s. These songs were written when words were special, and audiences left theaters singing and humming the melodies.
The evening starts with “I’ve Got the World on a String;” then the two go into a duet of Irving Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek,” the show’s title. Each of them chats between songs, letting the audience know who the composers were and even some tidbits of juicy gossip. A notable duet, “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” delivered some prickly fun between the two.
Although Barbara had never before performed a Cole Porter song, after hearing an American Idol contestant sing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” she decided to do a version herself. It’s a knockout when Barbara sings it! Thank you, Barbara, for gracing us with your magnificent and soulful rendition.
Some of the other outstanding songs of the evening were “Where Do You Start?” and “You’re Gonna Hear From Me.” Barbara’s singing “Here’s to Life” was a true highlight of the night.
Michael sang a new song written by contemporary composers Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich. “Ever After” is a beautiful song about the love a father has for his daughter. It’s the title song of the writers’ upcoming musical in the works.
Michael and Barbara’s last song of the night, “Shine On Harvest Moon,” was a lovely tribute to the married vaudeville team, Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth, who wrote and first performed it in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908.
Overall, Michael Feinstein & Barbara Cook’s “Cheek to Cheek” is an evening of nostalgia, charm and grace with two simply fabulous entertainers. We’re hoping before the run is over, they’ll make a CD of it so that more people can enjoy being treated to their magical pairing, whether they are able to see it in New York or not.
There’s no question—if you are heading to the Big Apple anytime soon, make your way over to Feinstein’s at Loews Regency before October 2, where you can be face-to-face with “Cheek to Cheek.”
Feinstein’s At Loews Regency
540 Park Avenue @ at 61st Street
New York, NY 10021