Ann Morrison: The Furniture Set

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Ann Morrison

The Furniture Set

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, January 3, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

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Ann Morrison established herself in lovelorn roles in the original cast of Merrily We Roll Along and in Good News. Somewhere along the way, she has transformed herself into an impish, eccentric cabaret artist in the tradition of Dorothy Loudon and Blossom Dearie.

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Her current show, The Furniture Set, grew out of a unique setting: a home furnishing store in her hometown of Sarasota, Florida that also serves as an alternative theater space. The items on display led to songs and meditations on her life, loves, and passions.

An a cappella medley of “Love (Bed) for Sale,” “Who Will Buy?,” and “Big Spender” among others, all with altered lyrics, launched the evening off to a wacky start. A later trio—“Go to Sleep” (Alan Jay Lerner/Burton Lane), “Here in My Bed” (Mark Campbell), and “On My Bedside Table” (John Bucchino)—formed a charming one-act play and helped to explain why Morrison was clad in blue pajamas and kimono throughout the evening.

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Morrison remains a wonderful actress, creating characters in a salty rendition of “Black Coffee” and a wonderfully manic drunken spree in “Cocktail Table,” one of several original songs penned by the singer and her very talented musical director John Shirley, separately and in collaboration. She also created each piece of furniture on stage through mime, elaborating on both their comic and emotional values.

And then, after all the quips (“Men are like rugs. Lay him right the first time and you can walk over him for years”), family stories, and comic moments— like all great clowns– Morrison, thrilled with a glorious rendition of “The Room Is Filled with You” (Harvey Schmidt/Tom Jones).

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."