28th NY Cabaret Convention: Hoagy Carmichael & Richard Whiting

| October 20, 2017

28th New York Cabaret Convention

Too Marvelous for Words/Star Dust:
The Music of Hoagy Carmichael & Richard Whiting

Rose Theater, NYC, October 19, 2017

Reviewed by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes

Photos: Maryann Lopinto

The fourth and final evening of the New York Cabaret Convention saluted two of popular music’s famed songwriters: Richard Whiting and Hoagy Carmichael.

 

Billy Stritch & Klea Blackhurst

Returning to the Convention as its finale-show hostess was the ever-delightful Klea Blackhurst, who opened the program with Carmichael’s “One Morning in May” (lyrics: Mitchell Parish), featuring Billy Stritch at the piano. Following the next number—Amra-Faye Wright performing Whiting’s “Hooray for Hollywood” (Johnny Mercer)—the evening’s first act was Carmichael territory, which included Wright and Carol Woods partnering on “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” (Merer); the silken-voiced Stacy Sullivan with “How Little We Know” (Mercer); pianist Matt Baker’s instrumental of “Georgia on My Mind” (Stuart Gorrell); Valerie Lemon with “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes)” (Jane Brown Thompson); and Kristoffer Lowe with a smooth “The Nearness of You” (Ned Washington). Joie Bianco, 16 years old and well on her way to stardom, contributed “Ole Buttermilk Sky” (Jack Brooks) and “Skylark” (Mercer). Between songs, she was presented with the Julie Wilson Award. Gregory Generet, too-long absent from the Convention, scored with “Baltimore Oriole” (Paul Francis Webster). Following more performers, with songs such as “Heart and Soul” (Frank Loesser), “Up a Lazy River” (Sidney Arodin), and the timeless “Star Dust” (Parish). Blackhurst and Stritch closed the act with the upbeat “Walk It Off” (Sidney Miller and Inez James).

The second half of the evening featured the songs of Richard Whiting. Blackhurst started it off, on her ukulele, with “You’re an Ol’ Smoothie” (Buddy G. DeSylva/Nacio Herb Brown). She was followed “Breezin’ Along with the Breeze” (Haven Gillespie/Seymour Simons) and “When Did You Leave Heaven” (Walter Bullock), both sung by Josephine Sanges. As she was about to leave the stage, she was surprised by the appearance of Debi Bush Whiting, Richard Whiting’s granddaughter and the daughter of famed singer Margaret Whiting, who presented Josephine with the Margaret Whiting Award. The music resumed with pianist/singer Eric Yves Garcia performing “Have You Got Any Castles, Baby” (Mercer) and “One Hour with You” (Oscar Hammerstein), then Shana Farr performed “Beyond the Blue Horizon” (W. Franke Harling/Robin) to cheers. It was cheers again for Stacy Sullivan’s warm performance of “My Ideal” (Newell Chase/Robin), and an enthusiastic reception for Carol Woods’ performances of “Too Marvelous for Words” (Mercer) and “She’s Funny That Way” (Neil Moret). Blackhurst’s finale was “Ain’t We Got Fun?” (Raymond B. Egan/Gus Kahn). 

As the show– and this year’s Cabaret Convention—came to a close, the evening’s cast assembled on stage, with the audience invited to join them in singing a most appropriate song: Richard Whiting and Egan’s warm-hearted “Till We Meet Again.” Stay tuned for 2018.

Amra-Faye Wright

Carol Woods & Amra-Faye Wright

Carol Woods

Stacy Sullivan

Matt Baker

Valerie Lemon

Kristoffer Lowe

Joie Bianco

(L-R) Joie Bianco, Klea Blackhurst, Jason Martin

Gregory Generet

Todd Murray

Tammy McCann

Billy Stritch & Klea Blackhurst

Josephine Sanges

(L-R) Josephine Sanges, Klea Blackhurst, Debbi Whiting, Jason Martin

Eric Yves Garcia

Shana Farr

Billy Stritch

Klea Blackhurst

Finale!

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

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