by: Paulanne Simmons
Quite appropriately, Vickie Phillips opened her show at Don’t Tell Mama with two songs about youth: James Murphy’s “While We’re Young” and Josef Myrow and Mark Gordon’s “You Make Me Feel So Young.” Although Phillips celebrated her 80th birthday two years ago, she is still filled with the exuberance we associate with youth.
But Phillips has a lot more than exuberance going for her. She also has great warmth, a sly sense of humor and a wonderful ability to connect with the audience. All of which was on display June 25.
With the able and amiable Gerry Dieffenbach at the piano, the two-time Bistro Award winner sang a repertoire that sometimes surprised, always pleased. Phillips has a definite predilection for the songs of Leiber and Stoller, evidenced in her selection of their very funny “Humphrey Bogart,” and the teenage tragedy song, ”Black Denim Trousers.” But there was also Dory Previn’s delightful “20 Mile Zone” and Billy Rose, Al Jolson and David Dryer’s gently sad “Me and My Shadow.”
For emotional appeal one couldn’t do better than Dieffenbach’s “He Taught Me to Dance” or Phillips’ own “Time.” Phillips can make her audience smile or cry with equal facility.
Although Phillips’ voice does not have the strength of youth it does have the flavor of an aged vintage wine. And like that wine, it is to be savored and cherished.
Phillips ended the show with Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal’s “I’ll Be Seeing You.” For many in the audience, the song may have seemed more like an invitation than a goodbye.
Don’t Tell Mama, West 46th Street, www.donttellmamanyc.com.