Reviewed by Joe Regan Jr.
Dec. 7, 2013
Wall Street Journal’s Will Friedwald and multiple award winner Bill Zeffiro put together a rather unusual show at Urban Stages “Winter Rhythms” series on Saturday, December 7 entitled “Sinatra at the Movies.” There was a large cast of performers and so many songs were featured that they were usually sung in trios, although they weren’t brief medleys; they were complete performances of songs including verses sung by Frank Sinatra except for some that were featured in Sinatra films sung by others.
The most unusual opening was a version of the famous jazz theme from Sinatra’s “The Man With the Golden Arm” movie with lyrics sung strikingly by Molly Pope.
The first trio was “The Music Stopped” sung beautifully by Nicolas King, a Cahn-Styne song from “Step Lively” entitled “Some Other Time” which Karen Oberlin sang luminously, and a warm “I Couldn’t Sleep A Wink Last Night” sung by Cary Hoffman who does a Sinatra show quite regularly in New York. The second trio was a wild version of “Saturday Night Is the Loneliest Night of the Week” sung by Kat Gang and Hilary Gardner, “What Makes the Sunset,” a forgotten gem from “Anchors Aweigh” was delivered flawlessly by Naya Rodriguez-Castinado, and a song from “The House I Live In,” the Academy Award winning short entitled “If You Are But A Dream,” sung wonderfully by 54 Below Callback winner, young Rebekah Lowin.
Perhaps the most unusual of the selections was an area from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” which was sung in “It Happened in Brooklyn” by Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson. It was delivered in full operatic tandem by Rodriguez-Castinado and King, surprisingly showing their quite capable classical chops! Two rare songs from the same film followed, “It’s The Same Old Dream,” sung by Margi Gianquinto and “Brooklyn Bridge” sung by Gardner.
Marie Dobbs did a full imitation of Sinatra and Betty Garrett in “On The Town” Empire State building scene leading into the duet “You’re Awful.,” quite a tour de force. Friedwald introduced a medley as being from the worst movie Sinatra ever made, “The Miracle of the Bells.” They were the familiar “Otchi-Tchor-Ni-Ya,” a song entitled “Ever Homeward” which Styne and Cahn adapted from a traditional Polish folk song. These were sung vigorously by Tatiana Eve-Marie, Adrien Chevalier and the Avalon Jazz Band (voice, guitar and violin) to great audience applause.
The second half had more rarities, some better forgotten. Zeffiro opened with the song that Sinatra always said was the worst song he ever recorded, “Mama Will Bark” with busty Victoria Ray Sook in the Dagmar part, and the audience supplying the barks! Eric Yves Garcia, who just received a rave from Stephen Holden, took over the piano and did Cole Porter’s “Farewell, Amanda” which is heard on the radio in “Adam’s Rib,” demonstrating why he is this year’s multiple award winner! Garcia stayed at the piano and dueted with Lauren Fox on “She’s Funny That Way,” from “Meet Danny Wilson” with Fox doing funny and wry comments on her parts of that standard.
Marissa Mulder did the very rare “You My Love” (lyrics by Mack Gordon) from “Young At Heart.” It was a beautiful song deserving more exposure. She looked great and sang it with great emotion. Then Alexis Kole took over the piano and played and sang the title song from “Not As A Stranger,” not a great song but her performance made it sound exceptional!
The medley from “Guys and Dolls” was sung well but they were all songs not sung by Sinatra in the movie, “I’ve Never Been In Love Before” and “My Time of Day” both sung tenderly by Sigali Hamberger and Frank Loesser’s new song, “Pet Me Poppa,” sung energetically by Sook.
One of the real discoveries was the forgotten theme song from “Johnny Concho,” “Wait For Me,” sung gorgeously by Lauren Fox. And the song from the gay bar scene in “Advise and Consent” sung by Kat Gang.
Jeff Harnar, who is doing the great Sammy Cahn tribute show at Stage 72, did his stunning version of “All the Way.” Then the entire cast filled the stage and got the audience to sing-along on one of Sinatra’s biggest hits.
The Winter Rhythms series produced and directed by Peter Napolitano is one of the best bargains in the city right now and there are several more in the series. Proceeds from the tickets go to the Urban Stages outreach program exposing the Great American Songbook to youth in schools.
Photos: Maryann Lopinto