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Sunday, January 2, 2011

YEAR END REVIEW 2010 by Gregg Culling - Sunday, January 2, 2011

YEAR END REVIEW 2010 by Gregg Culling
Sunday, January 2, 2011

I have collected some of my thoughts on events (cabaret/jazz/theatre) I saw/heard throughout 2010 and thought others might be interested. The list is mostly chronological:

Ragtime at the Neil Simon January 6th with Ron Bohmer, Christiane Noll and Bobby Steggert proved yet again what a very fine musical (by Flaherty & Ahrens) this is.

Daryl Glenn at Feinstein's January 17th did a fine job on an evening of songs by Sondheim, some rarely heard gems like "Live Alone and Like It" and "If You Can Find Me I'm Here."

Bye, Bye Birdie on January 19th was only so-so but with a very game John Stamos..

Next to Normal at the Booth on January 21st with Alice Ripley is a truly amazing piece of theatre. I saw it again (twice) later in the run with Marin Mazzie & Jason Danielly. Outstanding and unforgettable.

Nightlife Awards (January 25th) at Town Hall with the funny host Bruce Vilanch ("I'm Chasity Bono, in transition") with a mixed bag of theatre/cabaret/jazz folk including Kurt Elling who didn't impress me with "All the Way," Nellie McKay (an impressive piano player), the always wonderful Johnny Rodgers ("Birth of the Blues"), Sheila Jordan (killing us with "Autumn in New York") and Cheyenne Jackson impressive with "I Get Along Without You ... " and "Don't Get Around Much ... "

Daryl Sherman (Metropolitan Room) (February 3rd) with Mike Renzi and Jay Leonhart was an unforgettable evening, especially with "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" and the beautiful "Moon Ray" and again December 30 at Don't Tell Mama which was more of a party than a concert/show. She slayed us with "I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All?" and gave us pathos with "Jeepers Creepers," great sensitivity with "How Little We Know," and lush romanticism with "I've Got a Crush on You." And when she brought up Julie Wilson to sing "I Thought About You" there was hardly a dry eye in the house. Truly a night to cherish and remember 2010.

Lyrics & Lyricists: Johnny Burke (February 21st) at the 92nd St Y, had its moments, again with Daryl as host who did wonders with "Pennies from Heaven" and played Dorothy Lamour with "You're Dangerous." Barbara Fasano sang "Oh, You Crazy Moon" beautifully, and with Gene Bertoncini broke our hearts with "But Beautiful."

Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano at The Algonquin's Oak Room March 4th was probably one of the finest evenings ever spent in a cabaret room. Both were perfect both as soloists and together. Their "Isn't It a Pity" was to die for, Eric was priceless with "Small World," "Look At Me Now," and "Old Devil Moon" (smoldering!). Barbara's "Joey, Joey, Joey" so moving, and their lovely Wallowitch "Come a Little Closer" was a special treat. I'd love to have a DVD of this concert!

Yank! at the York Theatre (March 7th) was an honest-to-goodness fabulous theatrical event which we hope to see again soon. Bobby Steggart was amazing!

Sondheim Birthday Concert, New York Philharmonic (March 15th) as eventually shown on PBS was a stunning evening.

Boys in the Band  The Transport Company (March 20th) in a penthouse apartment sounded better on paper than actually seen in performance.

Joyce Breach/Richard Rodney Bennett (March 23rd) at The Metropolitan Room was another fine evening by this remarkable pair. Some highlights were "I'll Be Easy to Find," "Life Can Be Beautiful," a pair of songs from "I Had a Ball," and a cozy and lovely "Be Warmer This Winter."

Anyone Can Whistle at City Center Encores! (April 8th) with the always amazing Donna Murphy, Raul Esparza and Sutton Foster was positively thrilling.

Sondheim on Sondheim at Studio 54 April 14th with Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat was excellent throughout.

Closer Than Ever at Queens Theatre in the Park April 17th with Sally Mayes, Lynne Wintersteller, Geroge Dvorsky and Sal Viviano was delightful and so good to see again.

Calling All Angels: A Benefit for Greg Kennell April 10th, had some pleasant performances by Marcus Simeone, John de Marco ("Love Don't Need a Reason"), Esther Beckman, Cynthia Crane (her "Jose Cuervo" kills!), the whiz pianist Jon Weber, Steve Ross (a splendid "Cheek to Cheek"), Scott Coulter, KT Sullivan, Joyce Breach ("Not Exactly Paris"), Baby Jane Dexter, and a hysterically funny song about Derek Jeter from Tom Andersen.

Mary Foster Conklin at The Metropolitan Room April 21st in another special evening which included "Up Jumped Spring" and "Spring Isn't Spring Anymore" and the always great to hear "A Wet Night and a Dry Martini."

Nancy Stearns at The Metropolitan Room April 25th did a retrospective of some of her previous shows to a packed house. Always a delight to hear any of Nancy's shows.

Next Fall at Helen Hayes Theatre April 28th was a very well done play with a gay theme.

The Temperamentals at New World Stages April 29th with Michael Urie (from Ugly Betty) about Harry Hay and Rudi Gernreich and the beginnings of the Mattachine Society was historically interesting, to a degree.

Enron at The Broadhurst May 8th with Norbert Leo Butz & Marin Mazzie was a beautiful and inventive piece of theatre that should have been more successful.

Johnny Rodgers' mix of standards and originals at The Algonquin May 11th was a terrific night of music, beautifully played and sung.

A Little Night Music at the Walter Kerr (with Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta Jones) May 23rd, and again November 4th and December 1st with Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch only confirmed this as my favorite Broadway musical of all time. Not a perfect production, but a fabulous work by The Master.

God of Carnage at the Jacobs Theatre June 1st with Jeff Daniels, Lucy Liu and Janet McTeer was not really my cup of tea.

South Pacific at the Vivian Beaumont June 2 and telecast August 18th is a masterpiece. Period.

Karen Oberlin's delightful Frank Loesser Show at The Algonquin June 16th couldn't be beat.

Patti Wicks' superb return to The Metropolitan Room June 18th with Linc Millman is always welcome.

Race by David MaMet at the Barrymore June 22nd with an unprepared Eddie Izzard and Dennis Haysbert, but with a fine (as usual) Richard Thomas.

Richard Malavet's beautiful "Billy Eckstine Project" at The Metropolitan Room July 1st with the superb John di Martino quintet.

Broadway Our Way cabaret at Don't Tell Mam July 18th with Lina Koutrakis, Lennie Watts, Sydney Myer, Mary Foster Conklin, Georga Osborne, Lisa Asher, Angela Schultz, Baby Jane Dexter and Kristine Zbornik certainly had its moments.

Hooray for Hollywood! At The 92nd St Y on July 20th with Carol Sloane, Bill Charlap and Ted Rosenthal was a mixed bag with mostly good performances.

Coco at York Theatre Sept 12th with composer Andre Previn in attendance and at the talk-back was delightful to see, and Andrea Marcovicci did a remarkably fine job.

A Life in the Theatre by David MaMetropolitan at The Schoenfeld with Patrick Stewart and TR Knight was an interesting exercise, but eventually unsatisfying.

Colleen McHugh's "A Change of a Dress" with Klea Blackhurst September 23rd at The Duplex was fun-filled, and included Klea's "Pink Taffeta Sample, Size 10."

Marilyn Maye at The Metropolitan Room October 16th was amazing and unforgettable. What a gal!

Jack Jones with Mike Renzi at The Algonquin November 3rd was one of the best shows of the year. Long may he reign.

Will Friedwald's Book Party at The Algonquin November 9th for "A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers" had some truly amazing performances by KT Sullivan, Jay Leonhart, Tammy McCann, Daryl Sherman, Anna Bergman, Karen Oberlin, Monte Alexander, Pamela Luss, Barbara Carroll, and Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano, with Jack Jones and Tony Bennett cheering all of them on!

Broadway Unplugged at The Town Hall November 15th featured Marc Kudisch, Max Von Essen, Bill Daugherty (offering a rousing "50 Per Cent"), and Ron Bohmer, Karen Mason, William Michals, Stephanie J. Block, James Barbour, Julia Murney, and Euan Morton.

New York Pops at Carnegie Sondheim's Birthday November 19th was not as good as the Philharmonic's party in March, nor the London gala, but featured some good singers like Christiane Noll, Kate Baldwin, Aaron Lazar, Alexander Geminagni, and the amazing Marilyn Maye who stole the show with "I'm Still Here."

A Quiet Place by Leonard Bernstein at New York City Opera November 21st was beautiful and stunning to behold.

3 Play the 70's with Lennie Watts, Steven Ray Watkins, Scott Coulter at DTM November 29th featured the wonderful harmonies of these talented lads.

Break of Noon at Lucille Lortel Theatre with David Duchovny December 15th was a lot of talk, but Duchovny proved to be a fine stage actor, too.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at the Belasco December 21st was a major disappointment, a travesty of wasted talent; and an embarrassment to all involved IMHO.

Symphonic concerts at Carnegie Hall by the Atlanta Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Mariinsky Orchestra, etc also made me glad I live in this wonderful city.

Happy New Year to all!

~ Gregg Culling