Billy Lykken His Friends

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Billy Lykken His Friends

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, November 10, 2019

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Billy Lykken

It was Downtown come Uptown as the intensely likeable ball of energy Billy Lykken brought his alt-cabaret sensibilities from the world below 14th Street to midtown Manhattan. Playing the genial host to several performer friends, Lykken entertained with a few numbers of his own to begin the festivities. His opener, “Believe in Yourself”/“Living for Love” was a driving, dramatic position statement.

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It pretty much defined the essence of the alt-cabaret scene: performance by unconventional, often raucous, audacious entertainers (many of whom are LGBTQ), who celebrate the avant-garde spirit. Lykken himself presents as androgynous, in the way that David Bowie and Eddie Izzard are wont to be males in makeup and high heels. When he sings “Rose’s Turn” with forceful drama he’s in the moment with Rose’s character. On “Come On-a My House,” his voice on the edge of raspiness à la the late Elaine Stritch, he shows his fun side, adding a Japanese twist to the rendition. (This was a nod to the supremely talented pianist/music director Yasuhiko Fukuoka, whose chemistry with Lykken is a definite plus.) His rendition of “I Love a Piano,” with Lykken taking the lyric literally, was hilarious.

Lykken’s friends were downtowners Katia Malarsky, Jack Bartholet, and MAC Award and Bistro Award Winner Rick Skye, who’s most well known for is act as Liza Minnelli. As is the alt-cabaret wont, like Lykken, all are of the big belt school of vocalizing. Malarsky’s solo of Urinetown’s “It’s a Privilege to Pee” demonstrated a solid and lovely voice, even with a lack of vocal nuance. Her duet with Lykken on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” was sweet and heartfelt, the friendship of the two created a footing that informed their performance. Bartholet’s solo choice, a nod to his own cabaret act, was an earnest “Lady with a Song,” while a duet with Lykken, “Tonight”/“Found,” beautifully melded the two songs, thanks to Fukuoka’s smart arrangement. Syke, singing as himself, gave a deeply felt rendition of “Solitaire,” and in duet with Lykken, he joyously entertained in the many numbers that constituted the “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” love medley.

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Wrapping up a warm and collegial friend-filled show, was Lykken’s theatrical reprise of “Believe in Yourself” and an encore of the very appropriate “You Are My Friend.”

Marilyn Lester

Marilyn Lester left journalism and commercial writing behind nearly two decades ago to write plays. That branch in the road led to screenwriting, script-doctoring, dramaturgy and producing for the stage. Marilyn has also co-authored, as well as edited, books. It seemed the only world of words she hadn’t conquered was criticism, an opportunity that presented itself via Theater Pizzazz. Marilyn has since sought to widen her scope in this form of writing she especially relishes. Marilyn is a member of the Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Women in the Arts and Media and The League of Professional Theater Women.