Michael Lavine and Friends

| July 16, 2017

Michael Lavine and Friends

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, July 13, 2017

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Michael Lavine

After several Los Angeles outings of Michael Lavine and Friends, the Broadway coach, performer, and sheet-music meister finally has brought his living room to the New York City cabaret stage. And what a fun place it is. The atmosphere is agreeably familial, with plenty of space for Lavine’s real-life besties to create a joyous, relaxed mood. Lavine is a gregarious and genial host with a sprightly air. Who else would start a show with the slightly risqué novelty song “Como Te Gusta Mi Pinga” (Alan Chapman)? Hilarity continued with songwriter Carol Weiss who performed an “eggcellent” and “eggciting” audience participation number, “The Story of Eggbert,” complete with egg-shaped cue card. Not to be outdone in levity, Fay DeWitt left no doubt of her prowess as a comedienne with “Nobody Loves a Gypsy” (Carol Weiss) and “French Without Tears” (Harold Rome). Barbra Streisand impersonator Steven Brinberg had more divas up his sleeve, including Cher as “Mame” (Jerry Herman), Bea Arthur singing “Silver Bells” (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans), and Julie Wilson attempting the songs of Petula Clark—all priceless. Another master mimic, Christine Pedi, offered (as herself) a song literally written a week ago, the witty and pointed “Remember Facts?”

Although the accent was on plenty of humor, Michael Lavine and Friends also had a serious side. Heather Mac Rae, who has been in especially fine voice of late, performed a gentle “Tea for Two” (Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar), along with engaging reminiscence of a shared history with Lavine. Daisy Eagan, blessed with a naturally strong and resonant voice, glided through “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) giving real meaning to the lyrics, while a trio of performers still in their salad days—Mark Blowers, Sarah Wadsley, and Dianne Fraser—pumped their youthful energy into “You Can Be a New Yorker, Too” (Warren Leight/Charles Strouse). Closing out the evening was the stately Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins, who, in singing “This Gift” (Glen Hansard), summed up the mood of the evening. Michael Lavine and Friends was not only a treasure of a show, but a portion of the proceeds has been designated as a gift to The Actors Fund.

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

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