Jeff Macauley’s latest show “Hollywood Party” at Pangea celebrates Movie Songs from 1928-1936, some obscure treasures and others well-known.
by Linda Amiel Burns
The charming Jeff Macauley has been singing in clubs from Los Angeles to New York since 1990 and received many accolades for his shows, including a Bistro Award, and several MAC nominations. The reason behind his latest offering is that “it’s been 90 years since Al Jolson warned us that “You Ain’t heard nothin’ Yet!” and then burst into song in The Jazz Singer, announcing that the “Hollywood Party was on!” So Jeff knew that it was time to give his own Hollywood Party, singing movie songs written between 1928-1936, spanning the birth of “talkies” right through the Depression era. Films during this time featured some of the greatest movie stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Janet Gaynor, Jeanette MacDonald, Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, and Bing Crosby at the beginning of their legendary film careers. Jeff’s show included many beloved standards and long-forgotten tunes from legendary songwriters such as De Sylva, Brown, & Henderson, Herman Hupfeld, Herb Nacio Brown, Richard Rodgers, Yip Harburg, Jay Gorney, Lorenz Hart, Richard Whiting and others.
With perfect accompaniment by the great Tex Arnold on the piano, Jeff performed nearly 30 songs opening with a medley of “Music Makes Me” from Flying Down to Rio – 1933 (Kahn, Eliscu,& Youmans) and “The Continental” from The Gay Divorcee– 1934 (Herb Magidson & Con Conrad). One thing is obvious is that Jeff does his research and his enthusiasm for this material is infectious. We were treated to many unusual and fun songs such as “Never Swat a Fly” from Just Imagine – 1930 (DeSylva, Brown & Henderson) combined with “(I’d Like To Be) a Bee In Your Boudour” from Safety In Numbers – 1930 (George Marion & Richard Whiting). Another obscure gem by the famous songwriters Yip Harburg and Jay Gorney was from Moonlight and Pretzels – 1933 and called oddly enough “Let’s Make Love Like The Crocodiles.”
An amusing segment was when Jeff talked about a short that Constance Bennett made about what a movie star does to stay glamorous which led into “Bend Down Sister” from Palmy Days – 1931 (MacDonald, Silverstein & Conrad) about the importance of exercise to stay fit, and “Keep Young and Beautiful” from RomanScandals1932 (Dubin & Warren). A song that is still popular today “Isn’t It Romantic?” (Rodgers & Hart) was in the film Love Me Tonight – (1932) and Jeff described how this brilliant standard was used in the movie. You have to watch this number on Youtube to believe how the film jumps from scene to scene while this song is being sung.
The movie industry helped people through the terrible days of the Depression by giving them hope. Jeff sang “I’ve Gotta Get up And Go To Work” from Moonlight And Pretzels by Herman Hupfeld (who wrote the classic “As Time Goes By”). He combined it with the the bouncy and cheerful “We’re In The Money” from Golddiggers of 1933 (Dubin & Warren). This was the era that introduced us to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers and Jeff sang the Academy Award winning song “The Way You Look Tonight” combined with “Never Gonna Dance” from Swing Time – 1936 (Fields & McHugh).
This show is delightful entertainment and if hearing and discovering interesting treasures from early films is your thing, then come to Jeff’s “Hollywood Party” on December 27th at Pangea. This is your last chance to see the as he will be performing it again as a Benefit for “Dogs For Better Lives, (formerly Dogs For The Deaf”).
To make a Reservation: https://www.brownpapertickets.cm/event/3084163