By Brian Scott Lipton
According to the Internet, the traditional 35th anniversary gift is coral and the modern one is jade, but leave it to the brilliant Jamie deRoy to find the perfect alternative to present to the valued Off-Broadway theater company Primary Stages for their marvelous milestone: a sparkling diamond of a cabaret show featuring six ultra-talented alumni of the theater (where deRoy is a frequent producer), invaluably aided by pianist Ron Abel (playing with a broken hand!) and bassist Tom Hubbard.
Indeed, the latest installment of “Jamie deRoy & friends,” held on Wednesday, March 11 at The Green Room 42, offered up everything anyone could want: heartfelt tributes to the company, sublime comedy and wonderful music during its fleet 90-minute running time. While I am often loath to play favorites, listening to deRoy’s former AMDA classmate Tyne Daly perform a hilarious rendition of “Adelaide’s Lament” (from Guys & Dolls) was literally worth the price of admission. She and deRoy then happily duetted on another of that landmark show’s songs “Marry the Man Today,” which they first sang together while in school!
Three other singers also shone like the stars they are: Tony winner Adriane Lenox mixed it up to a fare-the-well with an operatic “Somewhere” and a jazzy “A Million Dreams” (from The Greatest Showman); the delightful Jennifer Mudge pricelessly personified the slightly ditzy Evelyn Nesbit from Ragtime in a jaunty “Crime of the Century” and rocked the house with another Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty tune, “Bad Nights and Bad Behavior,” which (unfortunately as it turns out) had been cut from the musical Rocky; and the ever-suave Howard McGillin held the crowd in the palm of his hand, first with a first-rate rendition of Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting’s ultra-clever “Have You Got Any Castles” and then with his gorgeous version of Joseph Thalken and Barry Kleinbort’s devastatingly beautiful “Was.” (As usual, the multi-talented Kleinbort ably directed the show.)
As is true of all deRoy’s shows, there was real variety. Beatboxer Chesney Show (who starred both on Broadway and off-Broadway in the a cappella musical In Transit) served up the truly innovative and accurately titled “A Journey Into Sound.” And while the irrepressible Julie Halston joked that anyone in the audience could do her act by now, she instantly disproved that assertion by making hay of a ridiculous New York Times wedding announcement about a horse-loving southern bride that had everyone guffawing in their seats. (And no one can do a side-eye gesture like Halston, no matter what she claimed.)
As has so often been the case over the years, Jamie deRoy stands out as a primary example of host, performer (love her “Jews Don’t Camp”) and generous soul —someone the entire cabaret (and theatrical) community should be grateful for.