Richard Holbrook: It’s Time for a Love Song: The Lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner: A Centennial Celebration

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Richard Holbrook

It’s Time for a Love Song: The Lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner: A Centennial Celebration

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, September 24, 2018

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Richard Holbrook
Photo: Jeffrey Hornstein

Looking appropriately elegant dressed in tuxedo for a centennial tribute to Alan Jay Lerner, Richard Holbrook performed 25 of Lerner’s lyrics flawlessly. This truly delightful show included many of Lerner’s very best songs, along with little-known and seldom-performed gems. Holbrook’s voice, facial expressions and movements perfectly matched each of the numbers. His elocution made every lyric crystal clear. His thoughtfully prepared biographical comments about Lerner were interesting and amusing. The Tom Nelson Trio never overwhelmed Holbrook’s vocals.

From the opening number “Ev’ry Night at Seven” (lyrics: Burton Lane) to his encore “On the Street Where You Live” (Frederick Loewe), what came through was Holbrook’s intense love for this material. The second number “Hurry! It’s Lovely Up Here” (Lane), a love song to flowers, was acted out perfectly.

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The title song, a little-known number from the failed show Carmelina, had Holbrook’s voice rising beautifully. In a medley of two selections from Brigadoon, his voice was powerful on “Almost Like Being In Love” and then soft on “Heather on the Hill” (both with Loewe). He showed his comic ability on “Economics” (Kurt Weill), which includes the line “She kept her money in her chest and never got undressed.”

He uncovered “I Got Me a Baby” (Lane) written for the film Royal Wedding, performing it publicly for the first time. He did both the male and female parts of “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life?” (Lane) performing each voice appropriately. All of the emotion of “Too Late Now” (Lane) came through. And his performance of  Lerner’s wonderful list song, “Come Back to Me” (Lane)  was the best that I have heard. He mentioned Lerner’s friendship with John F, Kennedy, which made “Camelot” (Loewe) and “Take Care of This House” (Leonard Bernstein) particularly meaningful. Hopefully, Holbrook will have the opportunity to reprise this masterful show.

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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.