Anita Gillette: After All

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Anita Gillette

After All

Birdland, NYC, October 7, 2019

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Anita Gillette

Anita Gillette took us on a very entertaining journey through her six-decades career in show business in a show filled with much laughter, a few tears, and a carefully thought-out selection of songs that were connected to her life story. The 90-minute show flew by because of her ability to tell one very funny story after another about her career, which includes being an ingénue in Broadway musicals, Jack Klugman’s wife on Quincy, Mona in Moonstruck, Tina Fey’s mother on 30 Rock, and an award-winning cabaret performer with her Irving Berlin tribute show. She works seamlessly with her music director Paul Greenwood.

Gillette opened the show with a cheerful medley of “I Can’t Be Bothered Now” and “Happy Go Lucky.

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” She drew laughter showing off her soprano while mimicking Jeanette MacDonald singing “Italian Street Song” followed by “Cuanto le Gusta” and drew more laughter when she remarked that as a young girl she could not make up her mind about who she should be—MacDonald or the Andrews Sisters.

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After saying she wanted to be the character Gladys Bumps (originally played by June Havoc) in Pal Joey, Gillette and Greenwood performed a delightful medley of “You Mustn’t Kick It Around” and “Plant You Now, Dig You Later” from the score of that show. After reminiscing about appearing in Knickerbocker Holiday with Burt Lancaster, she showed off her ability to do a soft ballad with “It Never Was You.”

Gillette amusingly described her experiences being part of one of Broadway’s all-time biggest flops, Kelly, and performed a medley of songs from the show including “I’ll Never Go There Any More,” a song that Stephen Sondheim listed as one that he would have loved to have written. A very touching story about the last few months of her husband’s life while she was touring in Show Boat preceded her excellently performed medley of songs from it. For her closing number, Gillette mixed in quite a few very funny jokes about aging with her performance of the metaphorical “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries.” Her encore was “You’re the Top,” which included amusingly updated lyrics provided by the show’s director Barry Kleinbort.

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.