by: Susan Hasho
For all those who don’t know the gracious and talented Ms. deRoy: She has awards—
a Drama Desk and a Tony for producing “The Norman Conquests,” eight MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs) awards for her cabaret performances and nine Tellys for the cable TV show she hosts, “Jamie deRoy & Friends” (airing two Sundays a month on Time Warner Channel 56, at 7:30pm). “I started out as a singer,” deRoy says. “I used to open for a comic, and then I started doing comic songs. Then, in 1990, I began hosting variety shows where my friends would come and perform. I came up with this idea of presenting people—“Jamie deRoy & Friends”—and I’ve been doing that for 21 years now.”
All to say—that when she says she’s bringing friends don’t write it off as theatre people charity. She comes armed with her own talent for gab and humor and a galaxy of very stellar guests. I enjoyed her ease and spontaneous humor; and I enjoyed the whole tenor of the evening which was funny and warm and jammed with electrically charged performances.
Jamie deRoy began with a parody of Start of Something Big by Steve Allen with parody lyrics by her director Barry Kleinbort. Then she introduced Euan Morton who played Boy George in Taboo, and won an Obie for Measure for Measure at the Public Theatre. He modestly declared himself feeling insecure and then blew the socks off the audience with Always (Irving Berlin) and Yesterday Once More (Richard Carpenter/John Bettis. (It was the “sha lalala’s” at full voice in the Carpenter song that really charmed me).
Beth Leavel, the Tony winning star of the Broadway hit Drowsy Chaperone, was next and sang “an ingénue song” Bill (Jerome Kern) and then her signature song from Drowsy Chaperone, As We Stumble Along. I have noticed that one of the hallmarks of a true star is when they perform it is always full out with total heart; and Ms. Leavel was no exception. She was open hearted, touching and fascinating—all accomplished with a gorgeous, powerful singing voice.
A surprise comic appeared because the original one was stuck in an airport somewhere. But the replacement, Jim Mendrinos who, among other things, writes for Saturday Night Live, was spot-on funny.
Shelly Burch, one of the original cast members of Nine on Broadway, sang Unusual Way from the show. And her husband Martin Charnin performed his song Something Funny’s Going On and discussed the fun of the long-gone presence of musical reviews with deRoy. He is committed breathing new life into the art form and announced his new review being produced at 54 Below on November 3rd. Ms. deRoy wrapped up the evening with the song Jews Don’t Camp (David Buskin) which is every bit as funny as it sounds. The whole evening is as enjoyable as an evening with Jamie deRoy and so much talent promises. She’s already trademarked “Jamie deRoy & Friends”— all she has to do now is bottle it—it’s that delicious.
Photos: Maryann Lopinto