[Dixielandjazz] Older Performers - Redux

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Mar 12 09:40:21 PST 2004

List mates

A while back, Nancy Giffin started a thread about "older performers".
Consider this article about Rita Moreno. For admirers who saw her in
"West Side Story", and then 2 or 3 decades later in Las Vegas still
doing vertical leg kicks, and now in NYC singing, she is the very
essence of vitality, talent and a youthful spirit that belies her age.
Perhaps not jazz, and maybe or maybe not OKOM, but there is a beautiful
story line here, about an older performer who still manages to be hip.

Steve Barbone.

March 12, 2004 - NY Times


There Are Some Cats So Cool That They Just Keep On Purring


   It is increasingly commonplace for performers who have kept
themselves in good physical shape for decades to astonish us by
announcing their chronological ages from the stage. Especially for
audiences over 50, it can be a doubly reassuring gesture because it
keeps the past alive and augurs the possibility of a long, graceful

In the eternal youth department, however, the actress and singer Rita
Moreno may take the cake. Ms. Moreno, who opened at Einstein's at the
Regency on Tuesday, announced to her opening night audience that she's
72. But from the vitality that crackled out of her, 72 going on 45 might
be more accurate. The petite performer, with a dusting of gray in her
hair, wore a white jacket opened halfway to the waist to reveal black
lacy underwear clinging to a taut frame. The impression was sexy and
proudly self-contained.

Ms. Moreno's show, which plays through March 20, doesn't go in for moony
nostalgia. There is no trip back to "West Side Story" (for which she won
an Oscar), no recycled shtick about her being confused with Chita
Rivera. Her singing voice is far from spectacular, light and a little
wavery, but she pounces on a song with a breezy, high-spirited
intelligence. Any regrets or self-pity are kept mostly in the

The songs are smartly chosen and upbeat. The opening three numbers, Nat
King Cole's playful "I'm an Errand Girl for Rhythm," the Cy
Coleman-Carolyn Leigh song "The Best Is Yet to Come" and "Sheldon,"
Norman Martin's comic throwaway about the associations we have with
names, set a playful comic mood that reached a peak with her deliciously
sly rendition of the Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller song "Some Cats
Know," one of the wittiest definitions of what's hip ever set to music.

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