Review by Joe Regan Jr.
Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano, who will celebrate their 10th anniversary in August, are beginning their celebration early with a show at the Metropolitan Room. The name of the show is “Shoulder Season” and, complemented by bass player Sean Smith, the act features many songs about summer, some well known and some rarities.
On June 1 Fasano, clad in a body fitting floor length red dress, opened with “Summer Is A Comin-In” (Alec Wilder-Marshall Barer) a brilliant song about the joys of summer. Without a break, Fasano sang a dreamy “Incurably Romantic” focusing on Comstock and he responded with another totally romantic “It Could Happen To You,” which blended beautifully.
The second duet was “When In Rome,” which both sang emphasizing the sexy lyrics, and there were even a few I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. Let’s just say the room was sizzling from their heat!
After relating her childhood on Long Island and how all year long she waited for the hot weather so she could run barefoot into the surf, Fasano took Jerry Herman’s “Ribbons Down My Back” to fresh sexual heights! Comstock jumped in with “Let’s Go” (a song from “Drat The Cat”) and Fasano did the Vernon Duke-Ira Gershwin “Island Down in the West Indies” as a hot suggestion.
Comstock did the rare “What Are You Afraid Of,” by Robert Wells and Jack Segal, and both did a poignant Billy Strayhorn unrequited love song, “Still In Love,” with great bass work by Smith.
Fasano sat on the piano bench as Comstock lovingly sang “Two For the Road,” joining him on alternate stanzas. By himself, Comstock sang the verse to “A Foggy Day” but went into the hysterically funny John Wallowitch song, “Warsaw” with all its clever and witty descriptions in the lyrics about that city.
Both Fasano and Comstock told very funny anecdotes about Julie Wilson criticizing their early solo acts. Wilson’s to Fasano was about her costume and hairstyle when she was trying to be up to date, and Comstock’s was about her speaking out during one of his early piano bar gigs to sing the number slower, more slower and even more slower. He followed her loud suggestions and he has been singing it that way ever since: “I Thought About You,” which was so tender and moving. Fasano responded with a dramatic “But Beautiful.”
One of the most stunning interpretations of a lyric was Fasano, Comstock, and Smith’s work on Paul Simon’s “April Come She Will” which details how to get through the winter months until spring.
Fasano gave background on the Harburg-Arlen show “Bloomer Girl,” which opened 70 years ago right after the end of World War II.” She told us about her favorite Harburg lyric and did a smashing “Eagle and Me.”
Because the program was dedicated to “Sun, Sin, and Sinatra” songs, they did one of the several Lew Spence songs that Sinatra recorded, “Sleep Warm” (with lyrics by the Bergmans). I’d never heard this song but it was sensitive and compassionate.
They both confessed their favorite MGM musical was not “Singin’ in the Rain” but “The Bandwagon” with a score by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz. The trio they did was “Why Go Anywhere At All,” “New Sun in the Sky,” and “Shine on Your Shoes.” The crowd cheered and they had to do an encore.
The encore was one of the best selections of the evening: “The Hamptons” by Jim Lowe! I’d never heard this song but it was a perfect description of the upper and lower castes in the Hamptons and ending the evening on a very high note.
Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano‘s “Shoulder Season” is one of the best cabaret shows of the year! It repeats at the Metropolitan Room June 3 at 9:30 pm, 4, 8, and 9, at 7PM. For Reservations go on line at Metropolitan Room.com or call the Metropolitan Room at (212) 206-0440.