Lee Roy Reams: Goodbye, Kentucky! Hello, Broadway

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Lee Roy Reams

Goodbye, Kentucky! Hello, Broadway

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, March 11, 2022

Reviewed by Ron Forman

Lee Roy Reams

I was asked before Lee Roy Reams’ latest show at Feinstein’s/54 Below why Reams was my personal favorite male cabaret performer. I responded, “He is a wonderful singer and dancer, but most importantly, he is the consummate entertainer.
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” Every minute of this very fast-moving 90-minute show was entertaining. He has extraordinary confidence on stage, he tells funny stories with the timing of a standup comedian and, when it is necessary, he can perform a number dramatically. This show traces his life from a town in Kentucky to his starring role in 42nd Street, with songs chosen from the shows he appeared in from boyhood to stardom. Music director Alex Rybeck’s very lively work on the piano was the perfect accompaniment for the very lively Reams.

Reams opened by singing and dancing to a dance medley that included “Cheek to Cheek,” “Change Partners,” a laugh-provoking “Dancing in the Dark” (with the room’s lights shut off), and ending with “I Could Have Danced All Night.
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” Remembering the first musical he saw as a child, he performed a medley of songs from Finian’s Rainbow using a delightful Irish accent. He then performed a very moving “If” (David Gates). He recounted his experiences working with Juliet Prowse in New York and Las Vegas, that included a hilarious anecdote about his night in bed with Prowse. This was followed by a medley of songs from Sweet Charity, including a wonderfully done “Hey Big Spender,”

When Reams first came to New York he joined the cast of The Fantasticks. He was joined on stage by Rita Gardner, who was in The Girl in the original 1960 production of that show, for a very emotionally performed “They Were You.” He preceded his performance of “Kansas City” with a funny anecdote about auditioning for a role in front of a gruff Richard Rodgers and then getting the part in Oklahoma! Much laughter was induced with his recalling his experiences with Carol Channing in productions of Lorelei and Hello, Dolly! Reams appeared in and directed a number of productions of Hello, Dolly!, ultimately playing Dolly. His medley of songs from that score included a very dramatic “Before the Parade Passes By.”

Reams closed with a strong performance of the title song from 42nd Street, after which he recounted the story of the opening night on Broadway, the very night that director Gower Champion had passed away. The encore was a medley of “The Rose” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

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.