Fyvush Finkel

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Fyvush Finkel

Metropolitan Room, NYC, March 7, 2016

Reviewed by Victoria Ordin for Cabaret Scenes

Fyvush-Finkel-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212At 93, Fyvush Finkel has more energy and passion on stage than many performers barely two-thirds his age. The legendary performer equally rooted in the Yiddish and mainstream American theater, as well as television and film, still loves being on stage. He cultivates a relationship with the audience masterfully and sings with a clarity often lacking in one decades younger. 

The Brooklyn-raised actor watched with evident pride as his two sons, Ian and Elliot (both in their 60s) entertained a packed room with an exuberant “Mambo Jambo” (Perez Prado) and an innovative Gershwin medley including song by George and Ira plus stretches of “Rhapsody in Blue.” The languor of “Summertime” was nicely offset by the giddiness of “I Got Rhythm” (which the Finkel boys have in spades!
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) and the poignancy of “Someone to Watch Over Me.

” Ian is a veritable force of nature on the xylophone; “joy” hardly captures the intensity of his pleasure in playing music he transforms into something truly “other” with his unique instrument. Elliot complements the explosive energy of his brother with his soulful yet elegant work on piano, particularly in “I’ll Be Seeing You” (Fain/Kahal).

Jay Berliner (guitar), Ed Sterbin (bass), and Martin Fisher (drums) rounded out the finely-tuned band.

With the crowd in high spirits from the first half of the show, Fyvush took the stage, telling jokes some of us have heard in some form before, but welcomed hearing again, about why Jews don’t drink (“It interferes with suffering”). He read Sam Levenson’s response to an anti-Semite with the gravitas one would expect from an actor who played Tevye in the Jerome Robbins national tour of Fiddler on the Roof, having played smaller roles before getting the lead. While Fyvush’s speaking voice is unaltered, “If I Were a Rich Man” was a bit shaky, but, he finished strong, nailing both “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore” (Lerner/Loewe) and “To Life.
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