[Dixielandjazz] Lanie Kazan

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Oct 8 08:11:39 PDT 2010

Not much time left to see her at Feinstein's however, don't miss her  
if you ar in the area. She is definitely among the last of the red hot  

Although I am 7 years older than Lanie, we attended Hofstra College at  
the same time (mid/late 1950s) after I got out of the Army. Back then,  
she sang a time or two with The Beale Street Stompers led by Kenny  
Butterfield (trumpet). The rest of that front line was me on clarinet  
and Al (Jim) Winters on trombone.

Lanie is a wonderful singer of the songs we all love and a wonderful  
lady. Like the article suggests, she also plays comedic roles wherein  
she is the stereotypical Jewish (or Italian) mother.

Steve Barbone

Over-the-Top Style Meets Some Good-Hearted Sense

As Lainie Kazan recounted her life at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency on  
Wednesday evening, it was as though the turning point in her career in  
the mid-1960s happened only last week. That was when she was an  
understudy for Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl” and waited more than a  
year to step into the role of Fanny Brice. As she recalled, the day  
came, the press was invited, and Ms. Streisand appeared at the last  

Ms. Kazan, now 70, still exudes a volcanic willpower, even though she  
had to be helped on and off the stage, and the middle range of her  
enormous voice has thinned. In recent years she has developed a second  
career playing stereotypically domineering mothers with a good-hearted  
comic zest. Her sense of humor carries over into her singing, which is  
fearlessly histrionic with a strong element of self-parody.

When she dips into a growling contralto, Ms. Kazan is almost a vocal  
double for Harvey Fierstein, and you have the sense that she relishes  
the drag queen, mama lion element of her stage personality. Singing  
the Sophie Tucker standard, “I’m Living Alone and I Like It,” she  
inserted the line, “I’m just a king-size Lollobrigida.”

Her show, in which she is backed by a pop trio, touches all the  
sources of her style of over-the-top melodrama, with Judy Garland  
leading the pack and Tucker coming in second. Ms. Kazan acts her songs  
intensely, but the drama comes from the outside in. When she throws  
her head back at the end of a number, she is miming the role of diva.  
In “The Trolley Song,” the shouted words “bump, bump, bump went the  
brake,” became the song’s comic center. “The Man That Got Away,” with  
emphasis on the phrase “but fools will be fools,” was freighted with  
more tragedy than even this ultimate torch song can comfortably carry.

But calculated excess, outlandish as it may appear, is Ms. Kazan’s  
stock in trade. Among the handful of performers who deserve to inherit  
Tucker’s sobriquet, “the last of the red-hot mamas,” she is high on  
the list.

Lainie Kazan continues through Saturday at Feinstein’s at Loews  
Regency, 540 Park Avenue, at 61st Street; (212) 339-4095.

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