Reviewed by Joe Regan Jr.
Bobbi Horowitz presented another of her series “Great Songwriters Up Close” at the Metropolitan Room on March 9 to a full house of appreciative cabaret fans. The honorees this time were David Friedman, Sammy Timberg, and Richard A. Whiting. Bill Zefiro was the pianist for most of the performers. Friedman and his lyricist Peter Kellogg were present and Timberg’s daughter Pat, and, of course, Debbi Whiting (Busch) was present to represent her grandfather.
Horowitz herself sang the first Friedman selection, “Doin’ It For America,” a song in praise of shopping for clothes and accessories for which Horowitz herself had written the lyrics. Friedman took to the piano and said that what inspired him to write songs was the honest feelings he had in his heart. His example was the cabaret staple, the humorous “My Simple Christmas Wish” and he sang it with gusto and humor. The Kellogg collaborations were of shows that had been done out of town or recently showcased. They joked about how they worked together. One of the songs “Dumb Blond” was from a show about the adventures of a $100 bill being passed from one person to another and the dumb blonde was the lucky winner at a gambling table in Las Vegas. The most interesting song was from a Country Western version of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.” “Black and White” was delightfully sung by John Wilkening as the prisoner waiting for the hangman and Shawna Goodgold as Belle, a saloon singer who had participated in the plot’s bed trick.
Pat Timberg came on stage and stated that her father was most famous for his songs for cartoon series like “Popeye” and the 1939 feature “Gulliver’s Travels.” Zefiro sang a ballad by Timberg entitled “I Bring My Love To You.“ A crazy Olive Oyl song was “I Want A Clean Shaven Man” comically performed by Horowitz’s bearded son, David F. Slone, and a clever singer taking the part of Olive Oyl. The audience was given sheets to sing along with “It’s A Hap-Hap-Happy Day!” from “Gulliver’s Travels” (lyrics by Al Nailburg, Timberg, and Winston Sharples).
Debbi Whiting, Horowitz, and Bill Zefiro led the audience in another sing-along of Whiting’s “Ain’t We Got Fun.” Melissa Mulder sang the most exquisite version of Richard Whiting’s favorite song, “My Ideal.” Whiting explained how she was promoting her mother’s memory and Johnny Mercer by bestowing an annual cash award at every year’s Mabel Mercer Foundation Cabaret Convention. Eric Yves Garcia, the winner of the Whiting Award last year, stated that “My Ideal” was the song he sang that won him the contest but after hearing Mulder sing it he probably would never sing it again! What Garcia sang, seated at the piano, was “One Hour With You” (lyrics Leo Robin) tenderly first and then, with strong keyboard playing, a belting rhythmic second chorus. Stacy Sullivan, who’s won every award in the business with her Peggy Lee tribute, came on stage and told us that Whiting had chosen a song that stated “There goes the boy…” in the first lyric. She felt she was a little mature to sing that, but then she listened to Lee’s recording of “My Future Just Passed” and understood. She also confessed that “There goes the boy” was what she thought years ago when she saw the man who became her husband. Sullivan’s golden rendition of “My Future Just Passed” revealed what a great forgotten song is and that it was an excellent choice!
The whole cast returned to the stage for another sing-a-long, each one singing a few lines of the lyrics to Whiting and Mercer‘s “Too Marvelous For Words.” It was a wonderful way to end the afternoon.
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