Karen Oberlin: Heart and Soul: The Songs of Frank Loesser

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Karen Oberlin

Heart and Soul: The Songs of Frank Loesser

Metropolitan Room, NYC, January 13, 2016

Reviewed by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes

Photo: Bill Westmoreland
Photo: Bill Westmoreland

Too many cabaret shows appear for a few evenings, then vanish forever. That’s now changing, thanks to a new series of evenings produced by Stephen Hanks’ Cabaret Life Productions with Associate Producer Jeffrey Hamblin.

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First up in 2016: Heart and Soul: The Songs of Frank Loesser, which Karen Oberlin introduced at the Algonquin Hotel’s Oak Room in 2010 for Loesser’s 100th birthday, and which she brought back to life winningly this January at the Metropolitan Room.

With the same fine musicians who played the original show—Jon Weber, musical director and pianist, and Sean Smith on bass—and with her own increasing sureness and easy charm, Oberlin romped through many of Loesser’s now-classic show tunes and popular numbers. His 1950 hit, Guys and Dolls—for which he wrote the music and lyricswas well represented by “If I Were a Bell,” “My Time of Day,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” “More I Cannot Wish You,” and the seldom-heard “Traveling Light” (which was cut from the show). On hand, too, were his many collaborations, such as “Love Isn’t Born, It’s Made” (music by Arthur Schwartz), “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You” (music by Jule Styne), and the classic “Heart and Soul” (music by Hoagy Carmichael).

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Oberlin’s sense of fun shone through in her interpretation of “I Believe in You” (How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” while her skill with a romantic ballad was front and center with her version of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”

For her final number, the sweet “More I Cannot Wish You,” Oberlin simply stepped off the stage, walked through the audience and exited through the curtained door—to warm cheers and applause.

The Greatest Hits series continues, one night each month through this year, at the Metropolitan Room. For information on the who, what and when, contact Stephen at Cabaret Life Productions.

Peter Haas

Writer, editor, lyricist and banjo plunker, Peter Haas has been contributing features and performance reviews for Cabaret Scenes since the magazine’s infancy. As a young folk-singer, he co-starred on Channel 13’s first children’s series, Once Upon a Day; wrote scripts, lyrics and performed on Pickwick Records’ children’s albums, and co-starred on the folk album, All Day Singing. In a corporate career, Peter managed editorial functions for CBS Records and McGraw-Hill, and today writes for a stable of business magazines. An ASCAP Award-winning lyricist, his work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Feinstein’s, Metropolitan Room and other fine saloons.