Steven Carl McCasland: Not at Liberty

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Steven Carl McCasland

Not at Liberty

The Duplex, NYC, September 7, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Steven Carl McCasland

Steven Carl McCasland had a good time on stage, and we did, too, as he indulged us with stories about Elaine Stritch and performed songs sung by her. While I’ve previously seen him put on a flawless show, this night was about letting go of expectations and flying by the seat of one’s pants. Even when distracted by an unruly audience member who had to be ejected from the club, McCasland carried on through “good times and bum times.” Forgetting a line or two, he turned it into a shtick and, at one point delivered a Stritch bit as he yelled at his pianist “Rob” (the first name of Stritch’s long-time pianist), acted by accomplished accompanist Jimmy Horan.

McCasland brought his big voice out from the very start of the show with his raucous rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” (Irving Berlin). Experienced and comfortable on stage, he moved fluidly into the well-known standard, Sondheim’s “Broadway Baby” (Follies), and then dug back even further into the past for the song that launched Stritch’s career with “Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo)” (Bob Hilliard/Carl Sigman), which was included in Angel in the Wings and features the lyric, “Bongo, Bongo, Bongo, I don’t want to leave the Congo.” (Even the brightest stars sometimes start with songs or moments that they’d rather not let define them.
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) Almost every song from start to finish could serve as a highlight by displaying McCasland’s poise, efficiency, and tremendous voice.
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Those included the standards “The Ladies Who Lunch” and “I’m Still Here,” along with lesser-known works that are still Stritch specials, such as “The Little Things You Do Together” (all by Stephen Sondheim).

However, overall, it might be best to highlight the performance of “I Went to a Marvelous Party” (Noël Coward,) which seemed to sum up the same feelings I experienced as an audience member at this show. While there were some ups and downs throughout the night, I enjoyed a wonderfully marvelous party.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see