Steve Ross: Back On the Town

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Steve Ross

Back On the Town

Birdland Theater, NYC, October 23, 2021

Reviewed by Ron Forman

Steve Ross
Photo Maryann Lopinto

Steve Ross is a one-of-a-kind very special performer. From the moment he walks on stage, dressed elegantly in a tuxedo, you can sense that you are about to experience an evening of sophisticated entertainment. He never disappoints. After more than half a century as an entertainer, he is still at the very top of his game both vocally and on the piano. Back On the Town marked his post-pandemic return to the Birdland Theater stage with an eclectic mix of 30 old and new popular and obscure songs, all performed impeccably by Ross. He displays his encyclopedic knowledge of popular music between songs with his very clever comments. He even displayed his talent for stand-up comedy, getting a huge laugh from the audience with a Yiddish joke attributed to Fyvush Finkel.

He opened with a medley of “I Want to Be Seen with You” from Funny Girl and “Comes Once in a Life Time” from Subways Are For Sleeping, and “Shine on Your Shoes” from The Bandwagon: this was followed by a soft and tender “The Nearness of You.” He included a song he co-wrote with Barry Day, “Whenever I Think of Paris,” to precede his delightful performance of “La Mer” in French.
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An amusing story about Noël Coward led into “I’ll Follow My Secret Heart.” Ross displayed his ability to do a saloon song with “Scotch and Soda” (David Guard). His dazzling performance on piano of “Begin the Beguine” brought cheers from the SRO crowd. He then remarked, “A little Cole Porter is always appropriate,” leading into a medley of five Porter songs beginning with “It’s De’Lovely” and ending with “Just One of Those Things” and also including a very funny “Anything Goes Parody” with lyrics by Joe Keenan. The Porter medley was followed by a very warm “Thanks for the Memory” (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin).
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Ross then shifted gears for a hilarious performance of Irving Berlin’s “Cohen Owed Me 97 Dollars” followed by “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” which included a snippet of “Swanee River” played in ragtime. A very amusing performance of “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” (Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz) included a second chorus that ended with “I found the one girl I lost.” He closed with another Porter medley of “Take Me Back to Manhattan” and “I Happen to Like New York.” The encore was a moving “This Moment.” (John Wallowitch).

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.