Dawn Derow: Dawn Derow Sings Eydie Gormé

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Dawn Derow

Dawn Derow Sings Eydie Gormé

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, March 8, 2022

Reviewed by Shannon Hunt

Dawn Derow

Eydie Gormé’s wildly productive partnership with Steve Lawrence tends to overshadow her successful solo career. Fortunately, MAC Award winner Dawn Derow shines the spotlight on her idol’s amazing legacy in Dawn Derow Sings Eydie Gormé, a show that reminds us why both women are considered among the best vocalists of their time.

With music director Ian Herman on piano, Steve Doyle on bass, and Daniel Glass on drums, Derow made her Feinstein’s/54 Below debut by entering from the back of the room with a sultry “I’ve Heard That Song Before” (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn) and slinking up to the stage before shifting to the bouncy “This Could Be the Start of Something Big” (Steve Allen). Her powerhouse vocals were flawless as she danced and shimmied her way through “Day by Day” (Alex Stordahl/Paul Weston/Cahn), “It’s Magic”/“And the Angels Sing” (Styne/Cahn; Ziggy Elman/Johnny Mercer) and “Love Me Not Just a Little, Love Me a Lot” (Buddy Bernie/Moose Charlap).

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In between songs, she shared stories about the life and career of her music idol, from Gormé’s childhood in the Bronx to her entry into show business and her eventual success.
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Instead of weighing things down, Derow’s easy banter and breezy delivery kept the show humming along.

Gormé, who was bilingual, was one of the first mainstream artists to top the Latin charts, and Derow readily tackled the Spanish-language songs like “Frenesi” (Alberto Dominguez) and “Amor”/“Sabor a Mi” (Gabriel Ruiz/Alvaro Carrilo) without a hitch. She then teased a verse or two of Gormé’s biggest hit, “Blame it on the Bossa Nova” (Cynthia Weil/Barry Mann) before jumping into the feel-good, toe-tapping rhythms of “I’ll Take Romance” (Oscar Hammerstein II/Ben Oakland). Her full-bodied vocals showed amazing flexibility, and she effortlessly floated between styles with sheer perfection.

But even an Eydie Gormé solo show can’t ignore the influence of Steve Lawrence, so cabaret legend (and the show’s director) Jeff Harnar stepped into the role for a swinging medley of duets. The couple melded their voices perfectly in the hits “I Wanna Be Around” (Sadie Vimmerstedt/Mercer) and “Darn It, Baby That’s Love” (Joan Edwards/Lyn Duddy). The playful numbers were jaunty and fun, capturing the upbeat energy and easy chemistry of the original duo.

For the torch song section, Derow gamely put her all into the bluesy classics “Since I Fell for You” (Buddy Johnson) and “If He Walked Into My Life” (Jerry Herman). Her performances dripped with sadness and heartache, though her voice remained as steady and skilled as ever; she can belt with the best of ‘em, but she always stays in total control.

Derow channeled Gormé in a sparkling halter top and dark wig, which gave a nod to the time period without being distracting. She didn’t attempt to mimic Gormé’s look, voice, or mannerisms, but it was clear she had studied up on her idol, subtly adjusting her gestures, pauses, and speech patterns in a way that celebrated the late singer without going over the top.

Derow commanded the stage, and it was clear she had the audience in the palm of her hand. By the time she had finished her encore of “This Could Be the Start of Something Big,” the sold-out crowd rushed to its feet to give her a long and loud standing ovation.