Michael Feinstein

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Michael Feinstein

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, May 16, 2018

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Michael Feinstein

Who better to celebrate Feinstein’s at the Nikko’s 5th anniversary than the man himself—Michael Feinstein. Opening with “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” (Lee Adams/Charles Strouse) from Bye Bye Birdie, Feinstein certainly epitomizes the song’s credo to go out and live life to the fullest. In addition to his skills as a pianist and singer, Feinstein is renowned as a musical anthropologist and archivist of the Great American Songbook. His live performances are always a blend of classic chestnuts, some obscure gems, and a smattering of his personal favorites.

Backed by longtime music director Tedd Firth, Feinstein segued between his signature ballads, sung in his high tenor, and swing numbers. A slow-paced “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” from Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady is prefaced with backstory on Rex Harrison’s “talking on pitch” vocal style with Feinstein dedicating the song to its original muse, Nancy Olson, Lerner’s third wife. It’s that kind of attention to historical detail that makes Feinstein a rare bird in cabaret.

Speaking of rare birds, he carted out “Rhode Island Is Famous for You” from Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s 1948 musical revue Inside USA. A lover of a good wordsmith, Cole Porter’s “Can-Can” is a zany delight. Jule Styne and Carolyn Leigh’s gorgeously bitter “Killing Time” and Jimmy Webb’s haunting “Didn’t We” display Feinstein at his best.
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Peter Allen and Frank Sinatra were the subjects of medleys before the closer of Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting’s “Too Marvelous for Words.”

Feinstein’s at the Nikko stands as San Francisco’s only nightclub jewel. The first five years have flown by, hopefully to be succeeded by many, many more.
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Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.