by Lisa-Joy Reitman Dobi
One year ago, our beloved Metropolitan Room closed its doors for the last time. For countless members of New York’s cabaret community, this was akin to waking up one morning and finding that someone had removed the hearth from your home. Walking into the Metropolitan Room gave one a feeling of being embraced; usually this was quite literal. Bernie and Joanne Furshpan cultivated an oasis of warmth, talent, camaraderie and joy. The Metropolitan Room did not simply close; it left behind a palpable absence that still resonates.
On Friday night at the Triad Theater, that resonance was far more than figurative. Thanks to Bernie Furshpan, a Metropolitan Reunion filled the house. Let me be clear: this is not a show advertised as a reunion; this was a no-hugs-barred celebration. Backed by the Howie Gordon Trio, more than a dozen Metropolitan Room alumnae took the stage with performances that ranged from the Great American Songbook to folk music to comedy. Bernie emceed with his signature warmth heightened by absolute joy. There was reminiscence, laughter and a couple of moments when sentiment demanded a tissue. Many of us managed with a cocktail napkin. It was heavenly.
Appearing were Tom Gamblin who delivered a mesmerizing “Let Him Live”; Sharon Ruben -with Frank Moran and Bill Magaliff- gave a vivacious soupcon of her upcoming show Two Guys and a Doll (Triad 11/30); comedian Eddie Jacque, whose material and timing hit all the marks; the magnificent Ann Dawson with an incomparable “Broadway Baby;” a new folk song by Tom Toce, political and brilliant; Stephen Hanks gave a touching rendition of “Vincent;” the inimitable Bobbie Horowitz sang her hilarious and instructive voting song; Bennet Silverstein sang his own rendition of the fabulous “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered;” Lena Orfanos, after an elegantly -and humorously- managed key change, gave a gorgeous performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance With Me Till the End of Love;” Nora Davis delivered a delicious reprise of “Our Love Is Here to Stay;” Warren Schein gave us a swinging “Come Fly With Me,” then proceeded to ruthlessly make us laugh, and Lisa Yeager closed the show with a lovely rendition of “The Summer Wind.”
The Howie Gordon Trio demonstrated terrific versatility and polish. Whether jazz, standards, showtunes, pop, blues, noodling, rimshots, this is a trio that does it all, and does it right. John Miller was on bass, Jeff Klitz was on piano and Musical Director Howie Gordon was on drums.
With humor and sensitivity, Bernie curated an extraordinary evening. There were heartfelt words in remembrance of friends who are no longer with us, among them, Dana Lorge and Barry Levitt. As Stephen Hanks put it: “I know they’d be here.” It’s nice to think that they were, somehow.
It’s difficult to capture the happiness and affability at the Triad on Friday evening. It’s a tall order to sum up eleven years, 6,000 shows and countless moments that make your heart smile. And it’s impossible to convey what the Metropolitan meant to so many people. But Warren Schein said it well:
“Playing at the Metropolitan Room was like going home.”
Photos: Maryann Lopinto