Anita Gillette: Me and Mr. B: Anita Gillette Celebrates Irving Berlin

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Anita Gillette

Me and Mr. B: Anita Gillette Celebrates Irving Berlin

Birdland, NYC, March 26, 2018

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

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Anita Gillette used her warm and friendly relationship with Irving Berlin as a backdrop for a 90-minute tribute to the man Jerome Kern said “is American music.” She delightfully interspersed funny stories about Berlin with songs that America sang which spanned the more than 50 years he actively wrote. She was his cheerer-upper, often visiting him when he suffered from bouts of depression.

She opened with an energetic medley of “No Strings” and “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” followed by a kinetic “Blue Skies.” Berlin first saw Gillette in All American and then cast her as the daughter in a fictional First Family in the USA in Mr. President, his last Broadway production. 55 years after singing it on stage, she reprised her number from that show, “The Secret Service.” A story about that production’s leading man, Robert Ryan, preceded her dramatically performed “It Gets Lonely in the White House,” his big number.

When Gillette asked Berlin, “What kind of songs do you write?

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,” his response was, “Hits.

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” And Gillette performed many of them before being joined by trombonist David L. Harris for “Mr. Monotony” that allowed Harris to dazzle with his performance. His slow trombone solo led into Gillette’s performance of “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” She closed with “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.” Her encore began with a song Berlin wrote during World War II, “It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow,” which led into a sing-along of “God Bless America.”

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.