54 Celebrates Eydie Gormé

| August 16, 2015

54 Celebrates Eydie Gormé

54 Below, NYC, August 11, 2015

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes

54-Celebrates-Edyie-Gorme-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212For those of us “of a certain age,” Eydie Gormé resonates as one of the greatest singing stars from the fifties through the turn of the century. She slipped easily among pop, jazz, Latin and Broadway, displaying wit and a fantastic vocal range.

T. Oliver Reid, a program director for 54 Below, hosted a colorful—and moving—evening of songs associated with Gormé, performed by a lineup of seriously talented singers. It may have been my imagination, but these men and women seemed to subtly channel her vocal qualities and style.

Reid, using videos, photos and anecdotes, told just enough about Gormé’s life and career to give context to the songlist. He divided the program into sections including early numbers, Latin material, her biggest hits and her repertoire from Broadway shows. A fascinating revelation was that her interpretations of the latter stimulated ticket sales for several floundering shows.

Carole J. Bufford sang a pleasantly upbeat “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” (Sholom Secunda/Jacob Jacobs) and a searing, torchy “After You’ve Gone” (Turner Layton/Henry Creamer). Kristy Cates’s “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You” (Russ Morgan, Larry Stock, and James Cavanaugh) was cool, while her “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have” (Burton Lane/Alan Jay Lerner) built to a passionate climax.

The Latin songs included the original Spanish version of “What a Difference a Day Made” (María Méndez Greve/Stanley Adams) sung with a yearning, youthful quality by Cates; “Bésame Mucho” (Consuelo Velázquez) crooned sensually by Doreen Montalvo, who also did a jazzy “Granada” (Agustín Lara/Dorothy Dodd); and the sort-of-Latin “Blame It on the Bossa Nova” (Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil), one of Gormé’s biggest hits, sung by Mariand Torres, pleasantly evoking the original.

Kelli Rabke, of the voluminous curls, applied her sweet soprano to a full-bodied “Gypsy in My Soul” (Clay Boland/Moe Jaffe) and an intense, quiet “The Sweetest Sounds” (Richard Rodgers).

Nicolas King, a self-styled Rat-Packer, was perfectly slick in “This Could Be the Start of Something Big” (Steve Allen) and a scat-filled “All or Nothing at All” (Arthur Altman/Jack Lawrence). He’s got the entire look/sound down.

Tari Kelly joined Reid for a lovely “Sunrise, Sunset” (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick) that, for once, didn’t sound hokey.

The show ended, appropriately, with Jerry Herman’s “If He Walked Into My Life,” Gormé’s sole Grammy winner. Mariand Torres’s gutsy interpretation rode the song on a wave of emotions.

The band was led by pianist Jon Weber, with Jennifer Vincent on bass, Daniel Glass on drums and Jamie Mohamdein on guitar, all of whom had expressive solos.

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

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