Linda Lavin: My Second Farewell Concert

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Linda Lavin

My Second Farewell Concert

Birdland, NYC, July 24, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Linda Lavin
Photo: Bill Westmoreland

At Birdland were a Broadway belter, an innocent teen, a tough old broad, a jazz swinger, a dutiful daughter, a doting surrogate grandmother, a chanteuse, a Latin dancer, a loving wife, and a charming pianist. And they were all Linda Lavin. It was very fitting that, as she swung her way through an opening Cole Porter medley, a champagne cork could be heard popping in the audience, for the show was more than a bit intoxicating.

Lavin explored some of her classics without nostalgic sentimentality (“You’ve Got Possibilities” and “The Boy From…”), other classics that influenced her early life (“I’ll See You Again” and “Long Ago and Far Away”), and some surprises (“Black Crow”  by Donald Fagen/Walter Becker and the Green Acres theme). She also paid tribute to the singers who informed her performance style and her life: Judy Garland; Peggy Lee; Rosemary Clooney; and her opera singer mother.
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In between was amusing, comfortable patter, that, like the lyrics, seemed to just be popping up in her mind a moment before she expressed them.

Raising the level of fun was the amazing band backing Lavin up: Tom Hubbard (bass); Ron Affif (guitar); Steve Bakunas (drums); and as pianist and musical director, the irreplaceable Billy Stritch. Bakunas also happens to be the singer’s husband, and he chimed in with a more than capable Rat Pack vocal on “Let’s Get Lost.” As a special added attraction, the extraordinary Aaron Weinstein added his swinging violin to several numbers and soloed on an “I Want to Be Happy” that certainly seemed to make everyone attending happy.

The only thing to criticize was the title: no one in attendance wanted her to say “farewell.” Considering that Lavin appeared to be having the best time of anyway present, it seems she will be around for a few more concerts.
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Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."