An Intimate Evening with Lucie Arnaz
Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, September 16, 2016
Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes
Sometimes it’s fun to stop being a reviewer and just be a fan, and I am a huge fan of Lucie Arnaz. She’s a consummate performer, born to a magical lineage (Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) and the associated advantages of rubbing elbows with Hollywood and musical legends. Arnaz is a dynamo, using her solid acting chops to add multiple dimensions to each number in a show she said “showed the arc of romance.”
Indeed, she did show all aspects of relationships with her smart song choices. “Fools Rush In” (Johnny Mercer/Rube Bloom) is hopeful and naïve, while her original breakup song written with Madeline Stone, “The View from Here,” is a straight-up revenge. Arnaz is extremely funny, evidenced by the in-between-song banter about dating gay men and playing Daisy Mae in Li’l Abner, as well as great impressions of Charo and Dolly Parton duetting on “To All the Boys,” a smart retort to the 1985 Julio Iglesias/Willie Nelson pairing on “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.”
Arnaz’s voice is strong, with pitch-perfect clarity and emotion. She works magic on a beautiful Billy Stritch arrangement of Cole Porter’s “It’s All Right with me” and Johnny Mercer’s “Something’s Gotta Give.” David Freidman’s “Listen to My Heart” was poignant and heartfelt, a feature of Arnaz’s sheer professionalism and style.
She was seamlessly supported by accompanist and longtime friend Ron Abel, who even provides the rousing closer “Until Now” and the lovely ballad “Slow Dancing” (Abel/Chuck Steffan). Together, they made “Blame It on the Bossa Nova” (Cynthia Weil/Barry Mann), a tribute to Arnaz’s 37-year romance with husband Larry Luckinbill, a comic gem.
There are few performers as totally satisfying as Lucie Arnaz. In the very intimate setting of Feinstein’s, she makes you feel like she’s doing it all just for you. She’s conquered almost every aspect of entertaining and I doubt there’s anything she cannot do well.