[Dixielandjazz] More American Songbook performances in Caberets

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 14 08:19:48 PST 2005

More proof that The American Songbook is alive and well in NYC Cabarets.
Perhaps we are too harsh about the music scene in the USA? (When the Times
reviews a musical act, they are usually talking about what's "in")

Love the last sentence  in the first paragraph: "everything old is new
again" etc. Perhaps we should play OKOM that way?


The Ghosts of Broadway, Past and Future

By STEPHEN HOLDEN - NY Times - December 14, 2005

Rebecca Luker stitches together pieces of time. In her gorgeous, full-bodied
soprano, Broadway Past (an innocent blond ingénue who floats sweet, high
notes into the ether) and Broadway Future (a dramatic realist with an earthy
sense of humor) meet and merge. Everything old is new again; everything new
is balanced with a classicist's understanding of traditional musical values
and vocal technique.

What makes her New York cabaret debut at Feinstein's at the Regency, where
she is appearing through tomorrow, all the more auspicious is her choice of
a program devoted largely to the possible future of American theater music.

Accompanied by Joseph Thalken on piano and Dick Sarpola on bass, she sings
the work of female songwriters ranging from Kay Swift (lyricist for "Can't
We Be Friends?") and Dorothy Fields (lyrics for "The Way You Look Tonight")
to several little-known contemporary teams, including Beth Blatt (lyrics)
and Jenny Giering (music), and Marcy Heisler (lyrics) and Zina Goldrich

Like the new work she performed in February in Lincoln Center's American
Songbook series, the contemporary songs in her show belong to an academic
school of carefully wrought theatrical songwriting that exists on its own
island off the rock 'n' roll mainland.

How durable it turns out to be is hard to judge because Ms. Luker (like
Audra McDonald, another singer committed to new music) lends even the most
anecdotal lyrics a gravitas that keeps you hanging on every word.

Some of the newer songs are downright funny. "He Never Did That Before,"
with lyrics by Mark Campbell and music by Debra Barsha, describes a
post-coital anxiety attack in which a satisfied lover suddenly wonders where
her partner learned the surprising "new twist on our bedtime story" he
introduced to their lovemaking and begins to fret over possible infidelity.

On the traditional side, romantic ballads like "On My Way to You" (by
Marilyn and Alan Bergman, with Michel Legrand), and "The Way You Look
Tonight" become shimmering long-lined vocal flights that breathe with life.

If you've been wondering who, if anyone, might be the heir to the great
Barbara Cook, Ms. Luker, who also comes from the South (Birmingham, Ala.)
and also played Marian the librarian (in the revival of "The Music Man") is
the one.

Rebecca Luker performs through tomorrow at Feinstein's at the Regency, 540
Park Avenue, at 61st Street; (212) 339-4095.

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