On Tuesday evening, April 28th, The Town Hall was filled with many from the cabaret and theater communities, fans and friends who were present to celebrate the loving, supportive and always present Julie Wilson. A red feather boa draped appropriately across the piano paid homage to Julie who gave so much to so many during her reign as the Queen of Cabaret. In fact, Julie had a stage career beyond the small boîtes where she intimately shared herself so brilliantly for so long. She appeared in “Legs Diamond” where she met Christine Andreas who brilliantly sang “Bill” (Wodehouse/Hammerstein/Kern) accompanied by husband Marty Silvestri.
(Photos below by Maryann Lopinto)
The evening was presented by the Mabel Mercer Foundation and hosted by Artistic Director KT Sullivan who, (after Mark Hummel played a compilation overture of Julie Wilson songs) sang Julie’s opening number when she played the Russian Tea Room, “Most Gentlemen Don’t Like Love (Cole Porter). Rushing off to a 7 pm sold out performance at 54 Below, marvelous Marilyn Maye had a special medley/parody that included ” There Will Never Be Another You/All the Things You Are/I’m Glad There Is You,” and Billy Stritch, after accompanying Ms. Maye, went on to sing and play “Rain Sometimes” (Hamilton).
The celebration was filled with performers who all had intimate relationships with the fabulous Ms. Julie including Sally Mayes, with her own twirling boa, in “Hard-Hearted Hannah” (Yellen, Bigelow, Bates/Ager) and Steve Ross, the Crown Prince of Cabaret, who met Julie 42 years ago, paying tribute at the piano with “How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen?” (Mercer/Scibetta). T. Oliver Reid sang a heartfelt “But Beautiful,” the last song Julie ever performed. Karen Akers offered up an intense “Surabaya Johnny (Brecht/Weill) and everyone’s favorite Sidney Myer had wonderful stories to tell about Julie, especially an amusing backstage meeting with Madonna who came to see one of Julie’s shows.
Karen Mason (with Christopher Denny at the piano and who was Julie Wilson’s last accompanist) had a raunchy tale to tell in ‘Don’t Ask A Lady” (Leigh/Coleman). Deborah Grace Winer had witty reflections and insightful words about the “pioneer woman in sequins and feather boas.” Jeff Harnar and Andrea Marcovicci performed their own witty version of “Let’s Do It” (Porter).
Holt McCallany, an actor and a very proud and loving son, offered touching words about his mom that brought tears to many an eye, singing “It’s Only A Paper Moon” (Harburg,Rose/Arlen), followed by Carol Woods (Tex Arnold on piano) with “Here’s To Life” (Molinary/Butler).
Some of cabaret’s favorites (all winners of the Julie Wilson Award) Shana Farr, Nicolas King, Sue Matsuki, Jeanne MacDonald, Marissa Mulder, Julie Reyburn,Jennifer Sheehan) sang and led the audience in a perfect closing to the evening “I’ll Be Seeing You” (Irving Kahal/Sammy Fain).
Noticeably missing from the evening, however, was the beautiful and loving companion to Julie for the past two years, Deborah Lynn, who spent practically all her days and nights escorting Julie to the cabarets and clubs and taking good care of the special lady to whom we said so-long at this beautifully organized celebration. We certainly won’t forget you Debbie!
Photos: Maryann Lopinto, Russ Weatherford