by: Sandi Durell
It was a BIG happening at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater on Monday evening, November 9th, as Jamie deRoy celebrated her 70th birthday, looking sparkly and glamorous, filled with her usual excitement and quick wit as she launched the Jamie deRoy Cabaret Initiative for the Actors Fund.
She used Ervin Drake’s “It Was a Very Good Year” as the thread-line (reworked with parody lyrics by Barry Kleinbort) as she shared memories of the different stages of her life, also vividly portrayed in an opening video montage (music/lyric George David/John T. Taylor, special lyric Barry Kleinbort, vocals Haley Swindal, Sara Zahn, musicians Ron Abel, Rex Benincasa).
Guest performers included powerhouse Luba Mason who sang the bluesy, jive “Don’t Shoot the Hooey to Me Louie” (Robert & Richard Sherman) followed by a seething rendition of Cole Porter’s “Love For Sale.” Long time friend Larry Gatlin, guitar in hand, offered his favorite self-penned “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’ Today” and the No. 1 song he wrote in 8 minutes ” All the Gold in California.”
The remarkable violinist Daisy Jopling began with Antonio Vivaldi’s “Winter” segueing into an unexpected “Thriller” (Rod Temperton) that rocked the stage.
The always funny Joy Behar (back on The View) was filled with Viagra jokes calling it the crack cocaine of the nursing homes and did her usual brand of Republican bashing. Michele Lee offered up “I’m Way Ahead” from Seesaw, the musical in which she won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance in 1974, and “The Best Is Yet to Come” (both by Dorothy Fields and Cy Coleman).
The amazing Jay Johnson, humorist/ventriloquist, brought along his monkey pal who had his own point of view about gorilla jokes. Just completing his run in Rothschild and Sons, Robert Cuccioli wrapped his beautiful voice around “In My Own Lifetime” (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick-Rothschild and Sons) followed by W. Earl Brown’s “If I Can Dream”(showing off his rock star qualities).
The surprise of the evening was Actors Fund Chairman of the Board, joyful gorgeous baritone Brian Stokes Mitchell (and his Melodica) taking the stage and singing “It’s a Wonderful World.”
The musical director and responsible for arrangements was Ron Abel on piano, aided by John DiPinto on Keys, Sean Harkness on Guitar, Tom Hubbard on Bass, Rex Benincasa on Drums, Don Downs on Trumpet and David Mann on Sax. the show was written and directed by Barry Kleinbort.
Photos: Maryann Lopinto