54 Salutes Frank Sinatra: The Second Century

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54 Salutes Frank Sinatra

The Second Century

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, February 2, 2019

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

It never ceases to amaze me how Scott Siegel manages once or twice a month to gather together some of the very finest vocalists from the Broadway stage and the world of cabaret for a one-time-only salute to the songs of Frank Sinatra. This show featured material from Sinatra’s early days with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra to his later years as Ol’ Blue Eyes.

As always, Siegel’s often amusing introductions are insightful and add to the overall entertainment.

Music director Ross Patterson’s arrangements and piano playing are tailored to each vocalist’s strengths.

The wonderfully talented Brian Charles Rooney opened the show, appropriately, by booming out “The Theme from New York, New York,” thrilling us by holding the note on the word “one.” He would return later for a finger-snapping Sinatra-ish “The Lady Is a Tramp.” Michael Winther drew laughter with his opening remarks and then performed a heartfelt “Once in a While,” including the seldom-performed verse.

He would return with a slowed-down but very nice “That Old Black Magic.” Cooper Grodin’s first number was “Where or When”; he would return next to closing for a boisterous “That’s Life” that had us joining in every time “That’s Life” was in the lyric.

Siegel explained that Valentine was the name of a character in Rodgers and Hart’s Babes in Arms prior to Philippa Lynas’ performance of “My Funny Valentine.” Hunter Ryan Herdlicka displayed a very pretty soprano sound for “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” which also included an excellent solo piano interlude by Patterson. Douglas Ladnier has the kind of big sound that used to be common on Broadway but is now rare, and it was on display with his performance of “This Nearly Was Mine.” It is very hard to compete with Sinatra’s iconic “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road),” but Ladnier’s voice and dramatic ability made this torchy song his for the night. Marcus Lovett’s conversational style was perfect for “I Get Along without You Very Well (Except Sometimes).” He would close the show with a crowd pleasing “My Way.”

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.