Bill Solly and Guests: Easy to Remember: The Songs of Rodgers & Hart

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Bill Solly and Guests

Easy to Remember: The Songs of Rodgers & Hart

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, November 8, 2015

Reviewed by Rob Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Bill-Solly-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212One songwriter taking on another, rather than focusing on his own work in concert, is not an everyday thing. Therefore, I was quite interested in seeing Bill Solly salute Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Tributes to that team aren’t so rare, of course, so I was just as intrigued just to see jolly Mr. Solly in person at last. I’d admired his saucy, loopy, clever songs, CDs, scores for musicals, like one fairly rare in its gay day of 1975: Boy Meets Boy. Ah, there he was: a tall, mustached, ageless sprite, eyes a-twinkle. With modest manner and modest (but charming and able) voice, he piped up with some oft-done R&H numbers and some not often heard (hallelujah!), e.g. “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum”; “The Girl Friend”; “I Like to Recognize the Tune”; and “Disgustingly Rich.” Chatting, he praised the craft of the polished Hart lyrics, enthusing about both their “wit and tenderness.” Accompanist Simon Mulligan brought out the sprightliness of the melodies and their warmth, and had his own graceful, expansive solo (“Little Girl Blue”). To point up the artfulness of “Where or When” with its déjà vu mystique, Solly recited the words rather than singing them.  He briefly demonstrated a few of his songs inspired by R&H, and more would’ve been welcome.

Sharing the bill with Bill was Rachel Allen. She started off confidently—some belting, some balladry (“Spring Is Here”). But she lost any audience goodwill after going totally blank on lyrics over and over. Her being many years younger and having just a few songs compared to the non-stumbling star accented the difference in their poise and preparedness. (Ironically, she forgot the words to “Easy to Remember.”) Unannounced guest Sidney Myer, nailing the comic romp “At the Roxy Music Hall” with supreme showmanship and glorious glee, was a mega-treat.

Rob Lester

2015 is native New Yorker Rob Lester's eighth year as contributing writer, beginning by reviewing a salute to Frank Sinatra, whose recordings have played on his personal soundtrack since the womb. (His Cabaret Scenes Foundation member mom started him with her favorite; like his dad, he became an uber-avid record collector/ fan of the Great American Songbook's great singers and writers.) Soon, he was attending shows, seeking out up-and-comers and already-came-ups, still reading and listening voraciously. He also writes for and, has been cabaret-centric as awards judge, panel member/co-host, and produces benefit/tribute shows, including one for us.