Shirley Ritenour: An Affair to Remember

| November 10, 2017

Shirley Ritenour

An Affair to Remember

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, October 19, 2017

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes

Shirley Ritenour

Shirley Ritenour, whose robust voice still hints at her operatic mezzo-soprano past, performed a program rich in material from the Great American Songbook titled An Affair to Remember.  

Ritenour worked hard to put her personal stamp on songs such as “A Grand Night for Singing” and “I Have Dreamed” (both by Rodgers and Hammerstein), playing around subtly with tempos and keys, helped by her fine pianist/music director Brian Halman, whose lush playing kept the singer pleasantly afloat.

She gave songwriter David Friedman his due, opening the show with his best-known work, “Listen to My Heart,” which she sang with a totally appropriate throb in her voice, and closing her show with his “We Can Be Kind,” beseeching people to help each other, a sentiment totally in sync with her choice of repertoire. She also again gave voice to his “Romance of the Children,” combining it with Larry Grossman and Hal Hackady’s “Mama, a Rainbow,” both loving views of childhood.

“Memory” (Andrew Lloyd Webber/Trevor Nunn, from Cats) boasted new lyrics by Pam Peterson, who humorously twisted the beautiful lament into a witty gripe about  senior memory lapses, aka “senior moments”! It was enthusiastically received by this particular audience who came not only to support Ritenour, but also her Concerned Women of the Grove charities.

Of course, as a self-confessed romantic—not to mention it was the title of her show—she had to include “An Affair to Remember” (“Our Love Affair”) (Harry Warren/Harold Adamson/Leo McCarey) which, ironically, she played down, portraying it as a happy memory, rather than a passion-filled experience.

Perhaps, “Downtown” (Tony Hatch) was a poor choice for her particular voice, but a meditative “Both Sides Now” (Joni Mitchell) and a sweetly casual “Time After Time” (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn) were just fine.

At a self-admitted 65, Ritenour’s voice is not in its prime and she found some difficulty meshing pop and classical singing styles—too often hitting operatic high notes to end her songs—but her enthusiasm and professionalism gave An Affair to Remember a lovely sheen.

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

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Possesses a strong and flexible voice.