Vickie Phillips: To Life and Rainbows A Loving Memorial Tribute to Son Kirk

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Vickie Phillips

To Life and Rainbows
A Loving Memorial Tribute to Son Kirk

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, March 19, 2015

Reviewed by Peter Leavy for Cabaret Scenes

Vickie-Phillips-To-Life-and-Rainbows-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212If you are a performer alone on a stage with 60 or so pairs of eyes on you, the microphone is your shield, or perhaps amulet, keeping your audience at a reasonable physical distance. Without it, there you stand, emotionally vulnerable and unprotected, wondering perhaps what to do with your hands, your body, and your lyrics. At her Don’t Tell Mama show, Vickie Phillips took the plunge and made it, handsomely. Freed by a body mike from the constraints of holding a microphone or staying at one, Phillips played her show as much as musical theater as cabaret, giving a theatrical rendition of her songs as well as a vocal one.

Phillips’s theatricality worked extremely well early on, with Dory Previn’s “20-Mile Zone,” the psychologically-distressed singer’s protest about being stopped by a police officer for screaming while she drove. Her musical director, Gerry Dieffenbach, sang the responses of the arresting officer. He would be a worthy duettist and sometime foil several times during the rest of the show.

Although Phillips included changes of pace, including a medley of Peter Allen & Carole Bayer Sager’s “Everything Old is New Again” and “The Old Fashioned Way” (Georges Garavenetz, French lyric by Charles Aznavour, with English adaptation by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn), a nostalgic “Old Movies” by Craig Carnelia and a “Political Epic” that brought great guffaws from the crowd, there was a poignant theme that wove itself throughout her choices, a sense of loss and longing. Phillips presented them most effectively, and in her engaging way of communicating personally with her audience. Her Kurt Weill medley, which included “September Song” (lyrics: Maxwell Anderson), was one of the program’s highlights.

The show closed with “Time,” a song written by Phillips in memory of her late son. Then, returning to the stage to please the insistent applause, she purposefully, or perhaps even unconsciously, reaffirmed that immeasurable loss as she encored with a moving rendition of Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal’s “I’ll Be Seeing You”

“I’ll be seeing you
In every lovely summer’s day
In everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way

I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you”

If you’re ready for an emotional, and emotionally satisfying, evening, put Vickie Phillips on your list. She accomplishes it admirably. And don’t let the occasional off-pitch note discourage you; she’ll make you glad you’re there.

Peter Leavy

As a youthful columnist, Peter offered dating advice to Seventeen magazine’s teen readers. Simultaneously, his “think pieces” and articles on entertainment appeared in other national magazines. Editing four magazines for a small publisher when the Korean Conflict erupted, Peter entered military service, becoming Editor-in-chief of The Army Home Town News Center. After service, he joined the family business and in the ensuing decades created several companies in the fashion and home decoration industry. Peter signed on as one of the first contributors to the fledgling Cabaret Scenes magazine, later was named associate editor and, in 2007, took over as publisher.