Rosemary Loar: When Harry Met the Duke

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Rosemary Loar

When Harry Met the Duke

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, June 3, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Rosemary Loar

Rosemary Loar revived her wonderful show When Harry Met the Duke and it was terrific to have both the delightful jazz vocalist and her carefully researched show back. This tribute show of two major and influential composers, Harold Arlen and Duke Ellington, is as smooth and easy to take as the craftsmen’s work.
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Whether these two artisans ever actually met, their lives crisscrossed constantly over the years, as Loar explained in her illuminating patter. The two men were, at different times, the house pianists for the fabled Cotton Club, which both shaped their style and helped them to set it for those who followed them.

The singer, clad in a gorgeous 1920s-style gown, is that rare combination of jazz vocalist and dramatic actress.
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She can sing and scat, but she also delivers the lyrics of the selections with a delicate probing of the emotions within. She can even create a musical arrangement for an original (in both senses of the word) piece linking the men, “Between the A Train and the Rainbow.” Most of the songs were arranged by music director Frank Ponzio, with some contributions by Don Rebic and Daryl Kojak. Trumpeter Waldron Ricks was also present to add electric support.

Some of the highlights of the evening included a flawless in its simplicity “Stormy Weather” (Arlen/Ted Koehler) paired with Ellington’s “Caravan.” Another infectious combination of the two heroes of the hour was “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear from Me” (Ellington/Bob Russell) with “Let’s Fall in Love” (Arlen/Koehler). There was also pleasure in hearing some lesser-known works such as “Rockin’ in Rhythm” (Ellington) and “I Had Myself a True Love” (Arlen/Johnny Mercer). But pretty much every number landed beautifully, and the combination of Loar, Arlen, and Ellington were a winning parlay indeed.

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."