Walter Willison: Music in My Heart

| October 12, 2017

Walter Willison

Music in My Heart

Metropolitan Room, NYC, September 19, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Walter Willison
Photo: Steve Friedman

Walter Willison recently turned 70 and returned to the solo cabaret stage for the first time in many years. He had mentioned to Marilyn Maye that he was considering the offer to appear, and she said, “Well, if you don’t do it now, then when?” Happily, he followed her advice.

Possessing abundant charm and style, tuxedo-clad Willison offered up a collection of classic Broadway and film songs utilizing a strong, steady voice and an attention to lyrics and musical phrasing. He brought humor to “It’s Not Where You Start” (Cy Coleman/Dorothy Fields) and warmth to “You and I” (Leslie Bricusse).

One segment was devoted to his good friends George Wright and Robert “Chet” Forrest via a collection of their songs, including the Oscar-nominated “The Donkey Serenade,” “Pennies for Pepino,” and “It’s a Blue World.”

Another part of his show was devoted to his first success on Broadway, his Tony-nominated part in Two by Two (Richard Rodgers/Martin Charnin). Sharing some juicy stories of the backstage dramas, and saluting in-attendance lyricist Charnin and his “mama,” Joan Copeland, he offered a passionate version of “Something, Somewhere,” a tender “I Do Not Know a Day I Did Not Love You,” and a surprising song cut from the show, “You Could Not Please Me More” (which was later recycled for Rodgers’ last score, I Remember Mama).

The evening was made even brighter by the contributions of musical director Ian Herman and drummer Sam Lazzara. Celebrating Maye, Lucie Arnaz, and Irene Ryan (who introduced it), Willison offered the upbeat salute to maturity, “No Time at All” (Stephen Schwartz, from Pippin). Clearly, the performer continues to live.

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

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