Steve Ross on Broadway
Lang Recital Hall, NYC, November 21, 2015
Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes
Somewhere during the last few decades, that showman and master interpreter of the American Songbook, Steve Ross, glided seamlessly into a permanent state of musical transcendency. Ross has always been loaded with grace, wit and charm; with the passage of time, his voice has opened up with a renewed richness.
From his first number, a snappy “Call Me Back” to his last, a mini-medley of “With So Little to Be Sure Of” and “Some Other Time,” Ross gave us what we’ve come to expect from him: an intelligently balanced mix of the familiar with gems of the “obscure,” drolly delivered with ingenuous affability. At this Ziegfeld Society presentation, among the familiar were songs such as “Sweet and Low Down,” Fascinating Rhythm” and “Oh, Lady Be Good.” Among the lesser-known offerings were “A Shine on Your Shoes,” “One Life to Live” and “Mira.” As one of the world’s foremost proponents of Cole Porter, Ross considers it a “moral imperative” to include the Master’s numbers in any given set. Porter was ably represented on the bill with “Nobody’s Chasing Me,” “They Couldn’t Compare to You” and a magisterial piano-only rendition of “Begin the Beguine.”
Special guest star Carole Demas is a seasoned performer whose vocal chords have frozen in time. With youthful power, Demas sang an authoritative “Broadway Baby” and then delivered a one-two punch with an intense, emotion-packed and thoroughly gut-wrenching “Losing My Mind.” Both Ross and Demas are champion interpreters of a lyric and their duet on “Embraceable You,” with some newly discovered verses, demonstrated a wonderful chemistry we hope to see more of. Demas was back on stage for the encore, “’S Wonderful,” and to help support the audience sing-along encore of “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love.” Director, Tony nominee Walter Willison, ended the evening in his clear, resonant tenor with the traditional Ziegfeld Society closer, “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody,” with the audience singing in tow. Sound design was provided by Emmy Award winner Stuart J. Allyn. Mark York, founder of the Ziegfeld Society, served as host.