Lyrics & Lyricists: Favorites: Your Choice

| July 25, 2017

Lyrics & Lyricists

Favorites: Your Choice

92nd Street Y, NYC, 6/26/17

Reviewed by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes

Ted Chapin

What are your favorite songs from the 92nd Street Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists series? That was the question the Y asked long-time L&L subscribers in preparation for this season’s final show. The responses were then screened by Ted Chapin and Ted Sperling, both of whom have been frequent artistic directors and hosts for the L&L programs, and who shared the same roles for this evening. They then fashioned the most popular numbers into a smooth, seamless, all-request production featuring some two-dozen songs spanning the years from 1922 (Irving Berlin’s “Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Devil”) to 1973  (Stephen Sondheim’s  “Send in the Clowns” and Alan & Marilyn Bergman/Hamlisch’s “The Way We Were”).

The two Teds shared narration duties, with Chapin at the lectern and Sperling on stage, the latter also taking the piano occasionally from musical director Jeffrey Klitz and joining in on vocals. Performing the numbers, in solos, duets, and smoothly changing combinations, were eight fine vocalists: Victoria Clark, Ben Davis, Capathia Jenkins, Lindsay Mendez, Clarke Thorell, Nicholas Ward, and Betsy Wolfe, with a special guest spot for Billy Porter.

The song favorites? (Don’t be surprised to see them named below, unusually, with the lyricist first, composer second; that’s how L&L listed them in its handout program sheet, to highlight the evening’s theme.) Many of the choices were theater numbers, including “Something’s Coming” (Sondheim/Leonard Bernstein), from West Side Story , sung dramatically  by Thorell; “The Impossible Dream” (Joe Darion/Mitch Leigh) from Man of La Mancha, and “Ol’ Man River” (Oscar Hammerstein/Jerome Kern), from Show Boat , both thrillingly sung by Ward; “I Got Lost in His Arms” (Berlin), from Annie Get Your Gun,  sung sweetly by Clark; “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (Bob Merrill/Jule Styne) from Funny Girl,  performed by Mendez; “Little Tin Box” (Sheldon Harnick/Jerry Bock), from Fiorello!, performed with broad humor by a quartet of Thorell, Sperling, Mendez, and Davis; and two more romantic pieces, “Almost Like Being in Love” (Lerner & Loewe) from Brigadoon, and the perky “This Can’t Be Love” (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers), sung by Wolfe and Thorell. Billy Porter, in a solo turn, opened the second half of the evening with “The Lady Is a Tramp” (Hart/Rodgers) and “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music (Hammerstein/Rodgers).

Several film songs were also among the choices—such numbers as “Moon River” (Johnny Mercer/Henry Mancini, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s), sung by Davis; “The Way We Were” from the movie of the same name, and—no surprise—the one and only “Over the Rainbow,” from The Wizard of Oz (E.Y. “Yip” Harburg/Harold Arlen), both performed by Jenkins.

Historical note: Lyricist Harburg was the guest at the first-ever L&L evening, in 1970, hosted by the series’ creator, Broadway conductor Maurice Levine. Harburg, seated on a stool, sang “Rainbow” to simple piano accompaniment—and cheers. Among audience members: your correspondent.

A finale to the Your Choice program was the full cast and audience joining their voices on a rousing rendition of Hammerstein and Rodgers’ “Oklahoma!”  Now it’s “happy hiatus” to the series until it returns at the beginning of 2018.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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