Beckie Menzie and Tom Michael: The Highs and Lows of Musical Duos

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Beckie Menzie and Tom Michael

The Highs and Lows of Musical Duos

Davenport’s, Chicago, IL, April 22, 2017

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

Beckie Menzie & Tom Michael

Chicago’s popular cabaret duo Beckie Menzie and Tom Michael shared their exploration of The Highs and Lows of Musical Duos to full houses during their five-Saturdays-in-April run at Davenport’s. In Highs and Lows they pondered why certain musical duos collapsed while others thrived. While the duo touched upon several musical pairs—including Loggins and Messina and Fred and Adele Astaire (saluted well by pairing “For All We Know” with “It Only Happens When I Dance with You”)—their main focus was Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé and Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. That these duos were so different in music choices and personalities fostered an engaging show that was never static. 

One standout number was Menzie’s offering of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” paired with “Slip Slidin’ Away.“ She made the effective choice to eliminate the chorus to “50 Ways” (the “Get on the bus, Gus” part). Eliminating Simon’s name game makes clearer the self-serving agenda of the one urging the leaving of the lover. This choice made the song less breezy and thus more meaningful. Michael’s lush offering of “I Only Have Eyes for You” (which was covered by Garfunkel) was a beautiful discovery of all-encompassing romance. 

In clubs and concerts, Steve and Eydie were appreciated for their loving banter that entailed giving each other the proverbial beeswax while not crossing into unkindness. Menzie and Michael captured that well in their own dialogue. We enjoyed hearing the duo sing the standards associated with their duo honorees, such as peppy “Bei Mir Bist du Schoen” and the gracefully delivered “The Sounds of Silence.” Irwin Berkowitz’s well-executed percussion added to the show’s musicality and richness—all the while being sensitive to the sound dynamics of an intimate room like Davenport’s. Pairing Seals and Crofts’ “We May Never Pass This Way Again” with Simon’s “Gone at Last” made for a closing number that was both a benediction and a reflection.

Carla Gordon

Carla Gordon is a singer/songwriter, director, and producer. The Chicago Tribune cited her among “Chicago’s most accomplished cabaret performers….a major player in Chicago cabaret.” Reviewer Pam Peterson called her “Honey-voiced wisecracker!” Ageless Magazine called her performance as Sophie tucker, “A gem!” Gordon writes custom material for singers nationwide. Her flagship show, "Blacklisted," featuring songs made famous by artists blacklisted under McCarthyism, has toured to critical acclaim. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cabaret Professionals and on the Advisory Board of the Skokie Theater. Her songs air on WFMT’s Midnight Special and are being performed performed by cabaret artists nationwide.