by: Susan Hasho
Michael Feinstein, as well as a marvelous singer and pianist, is an avid musical historian with a mission to share his deep love and knowledge of the Great American Songbook to as many people as possible. He may have started out as a deeply talented performer but he is now an exciting educator as well. On Wednesday night, October 23rd at Zankel Hall, he centered a show on “the leading men of Broadway” and also brought in two other very talented singers Kevin Earley and Richard White to illustrate the depth of our musical past. Accompanied by Phil Reno on piano, these two men covered a wide range of male show-stopping music.
Feinstein played educator and host: one surprise he mentioned was that Walter Houston was in a Broadway musical—Knickerbocker Holiday (Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson)—and sang September Song which Feinstein then himself performed beautifully. He introduced an Ellington musical Pousse-Café and combined the song Comme Ci, Comme Ca with What Kind of Fool Am I from the Bricusse/Newley show Stop the World I Want to Get Off to touching effect. And then introduced his guests.
Kevin Earley (Death Takes a Holiday, Roundabout Theatre/Thoroughly Modern Millie, Broadway) brought his thrilling tenor voice to Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Oh What a Beautiful Morning, People Will Say We’re in Love and most beautifully to If I Loved You.
Richard White (voice of villain Gaston in the feature film Beauty and the Beast and Joey in the Broadway revival of Most Happy Fella) sang Some Enchanted Evening and then knocked the virtual socks off the audience with Billy’s Soliloquy from Carousel.
The second part of the show moved away from Rodgers and Hammerstein into more varied material. Feinstein performed one of his favorite songs I Won’t Send Roses from Mack and Mabel (Jerry Herman) and did a passionate turn around Being Alive (Sondheim). He introduced his guests again. Richard White to sing the urbane Where Is the Life That Once I Led (Kiss Me Kate) and Kevin Earley to sing If Ever I Would Leave You (Camelot).
Feinstein closed the evening with a very interesting piece of musical history: Lois Deppe, a black actor in the 1929 musical Great Day which had a black and white cast (way ahead of its time)—sang Without a Song in the show. Michael closed the evening with this song. So many things ran through my head as he was singing—what a gift he is to the theatre, how crucial this music is to our lives, and how much Feinstein’s wholehearted commitment to preserving this beautiful music means to the future of musical theatre. It was a thoughtful, inspiring evening which left me wanting more. And there will be if Michael Feinstein has anything to say about it!
Michael Feinsein Standard Time returns Feb. 14th, 2014 wit special guest Laura Osnes.