by Joe Regan Jr.
Dana Lorge, the host of a monthly recurring series featuring guest cabaret performers, suffered a pneumonia attack, and her role as host was taken over by comedian- singer Warren Schein on her birthday February 19 at the Metropolitan Room. Music director Barry Levitt was at the piano and Jon Burr on bass. Schein did lots of stand up comic routines, sometimes playing directly to the audience that included Stephen Hanks, Peggy Eason, and Cynthia Crane. Lots of his comic shtick was political, with jokes about the presidential candidates, some of them very off-color.
The first scheduled guest was award winner Adam B. Shapiro, who did two songs from a new Urban Stages show, with music by Peter Napolitano, and rushed off to that performance. Shapiro had baked a terrific cake to celebrate the birthdays of Lorge, Levitt, Patricia Fitzpatrick and several others in the sold out crowd and when the candles were blown out, Joseph Maschia distributed slices of the cake to everyone in the audience.
The second performer was Fitzpatrick who sang a beautiful version of “Nevertheless.” Her second number was a heart-breaking “How Deep Is The Ocean” dedicated to her recently deceased son. Fitzpatrick will be doing a new show entitled 1941 at Don’t Tell Mama on Saturday, April 2. Given the success of the “cougars” show she did a few years ago (with Lorge and Helena Grenot) this should be a must-see. She will also run her Provincetown Art of the Cabaret Festival again this summer. Her son died during last year’s festival. She told me that he wished some of his ashes to be taken to the Red Rock Mountain outside of Las Vegas and she made the journey there in December.
The next performer was the very tall Sarah Peck (causing lots of jokes from Schein, who is short) who ruefully sang Jason Robert Brown‘s “Stars and the Moon.”
Making his Metropolitan Room debut was Jared Martin, a young man who has received the White House Presidential Honors for Vocal Performance. He gave Levitt his spectacular arrangement of “Something’s Coming” (Bernstein/Sondheim) and then did a soulful rendition of “Younger Than Springtime.”
The next performer was Frank Basile who was nominated for a Male Debut MAC Award for his appearance at the Metropolitan Room. He sang a tender version of “The Tender Trap” and then told us that he had sung that song to his wife, Celeste Holm. He did not know, at the time, it would be the last time he sang to her. He is currently working on a new Sheldon Harnick musical about Abraham Lincoln. The other song he sang that night to Celeste, with its rarely sung original show verse, was “They Didn’t Believe Me.” Basile received a standing ovation. Holm is currently seen on TCM in “High Society” wearing Grace Kelly’s diamond ring, that belonged to Prince Rainier’s mother. Basile told me that he and Holm went to the auction of Princess Grace’s jewelry and saw that diamond again.
Schein closed the show asking all of us to sing a long with him on Mel Torme’s arrangement of “Sing For Your Supper.” His website is www.warrenschein.com