Lyrics & Lyricists: Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and the Women of the American Songbook

| March 28, 2017

Lyrics & Lyricists

Baby, Dream Your Dream:
Dorothy Fields and the Women of the American Songbook

92nd Street Y, NYC, March 19, 2017

Reviewed by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes

Kenita Miller

“Once upon a time,” noted Deborah Grace Winer, Artistic Director of the 92nd Street Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists series, “you could count the number of successful women songwriters on one hand. This show is their story.”

“This show” was L&L’s March edition, titled Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and the Women of the American Songbook, devoted to the contributions of such women songwriters as Fields, Kay Swift, Betty Comden, Carolyn Leigh, Dory Previn, even famed singer Billie Holiday, and more.  With the knowledgeable Winer as writer and host, the show was a charming, tuneful, and lively exploration of those “few brilliant, persistent women who elbowed their way into the boys’ club of Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood.” Fittingly, their songs were delivered this evening by a talented all-female cast.

The group was uniformly tops, consisting of Kenita Miller (pictured), Nancy Opel, Margo Seibert and Emily Skinner, with a guest appearance by Marilyn Maye. The songs—more than two-dozen, their lyrics written by women in partnership with established men composers—included such standards and show numbers as “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” (Fields/Jimmy McHugh), “You Ought to Be in Pictures” (Dana Suesse/Edward Heyman), “The Party’s Over” (Betty Comden & Adolph Green/Jule Styne), “When in Rome (I Do As the Romans Do)” (Leigh/Cy Coleman), and “It Amazes Me” (Leigh/Coleman). Maye guested with gusto with such songs as “You’re Gonna Hear from Me” (Previn/ André Previn), “Fever” (John Davenport/Eddie Colley, with Peggy Lee’s additional words), “Bye, Bye Country Boy” (Blossom Dearie/Jack Segal) and, from the musical Ballroom,  a moving performance of “Fifty Percent” (Alan & Marilyn Bergman/Billy Goldenberg).  Women who were composers were also included (the late Mary Rodgers and Janine Tesori).

One male voice was included: Jay Leonhart was plucked from his bass base in the band (conducted by John Oddo) to join the women for the famed cartoon song, co-written by Ann Ronell and Frank Churchill, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”

The performers coalesced to complete the evening with two numbers with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh: “On the Other Side of the Tracks” and “The Best Is Yet to Come” (both with Coleman).

Next up in the Lyrics & Lyricists series: Songbook Classics by Unsung Lyricists in early May, with Sheldon Harnick as writer and host.

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

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