Le Grand Tour: The Music of Michel Legrand
Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, March 17, 2017
Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes
Jeff Macauley cuts a fine figure on stage. Slim and fit in a natty tuxedo, he looks the picture of Gallic elegance. In Le Grand Tour: The Music of Michel Legrand, he delivers a polished show with both classic and lesser-known numbers, drawn from an extraordinary body of work. Legrand was, if nothing else, prolific, having written for about 250 films, including The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort, and Yentl. This show is the third in Macauley’s Easy-Listening Trilogy—tributes to the great movie songwriters of the 1960s through the ’80s.
The Young Girls of Rochefort was most amply represented among the many films in the Legrand repertoire, with the accordianiste-like “We Travel ‘Round,” plus “Sailors in Waterfront Saloons” and “To Love” (all lyrics by Julian More and Earl Brown). Macauley is enthusiastic about his subject, conveying an information-packed narrative that at moments teeters to the edge of “too long,” but quickly catches itself and pulls back into the desired object of the evening: song. It’s the words that Macauley does best. His voice is pleasant, and is wisely used to tell the story—without gimmicks. He’s more in the groove with upbeat numbers, such as the quirky “Sweet Gingerbread Man” (lyrics: Alan & Marilyn Bergman) than with ballads. With those slower numbers, such as “I Will Wait for You”/”Watch What Happens” (both with lyrics by Norman Gimbel), Macauley focuses on the lyrics, with incisive interpretation of the material as well as an understanding of technique.
He is also not without a certain wit (we reckon you’ve already noticed the pun in the title of the show). A segment grouping summer songs—“Once Upon a Summertime” (lyrics: Johnny Mercer), “Summer Me, Winter Me” and “The Summer Knows” (the Bergmans)—saw the singer remove his tuxedo jacket to metaphorically cope with the heat. Finally, a lovely “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” (the Bergmans) ended this French confection, with an encore of “You Must Believe in Spring” (the Bergmans). Arrangements by Musical Director/pianist Tex Arnold were creatively magnifique. Jon Burr, a virtuoso of the upright bass, was especially inspirational in applying beautiful bowing technique throughout the show.