Michael Feinstein: Home for the Holidays

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Michael Feinstein

Home for the Holidays
Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, December 26, 2019
Reviewed by Ron Forman

Michael Feinstein
Photo: Lawrence Sumulong

I never miss Michael Feinstein’s annual holiday show, which is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Whether he is standing at the mic or accompanying himself at the piano, his singing appears to be getting stronger with the years. What makes these shows extra special is his ability to be laugh-out-loud funny, as when he said, “I had to sleep with myself to get this gig.

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” In addition, his vast knowledge of the Great American Songbook makes his introductions to each number filled with interesting and very funny anecdotes. Music director Tedd Firth is a very valuable addition, as his piano solos always draw applause.
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With Phil Palombi (bass) and Mark McLean (drums) backing him, Feinstein shows off his ability to swing.

He got the crowd jumping by belting a lively “The Joint Is Jumping” to open the show.

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After informing us that composer Harry Warren was the most successful songwriter of the 20th century with more songs on the Hit Parade than any other, Feinstein sat down at the piano and sang three of Warren’s World War II ballads: “I Know Why (and So Do You),” “he More I See You,” and “There Will Never Be Another You.” After remarking that the Great American Songbook did not die at the end of the 1950s, he did a medley of 1970s hits beginning with “Close to You” and ending with “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” He also performed two hilariously funny Jewish holiday songs: ‘I’ll Be Gone for Christmas” and “I’m Spending Hannukah in Santa Monica,” the crowd joining in on a sing-along with the latter.

He displayed his dramatic skill with a wonderful performance of “Wonder of Wonders” from Fiddler on the Roof. He told about the relationship of his favorite singer Fred Astaire with George Gershwin which led to a medley of seven Gershwin songs introduced by Astaire. He then told of the effect Gershwin’s sudden death had on his brother Ira and best friend Astaire, before performing a very poignant and sad “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.” He began his next-to-closing number, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” very slowly and then kept speeding it up, finally ending by playing the piano at a frantic pace. The show closed with a very lively “We Need a Little Christmas.” His encore was a soft and sweet “White Christmas.”

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.