by Joe Regan Jr.
The opening program of the Winter Rhythms series on December 2nd, was a star studded program honoring Bart Greenberg who for many years produced a series entitled Any Wednesday at Tower Records and then at Barnes & Noble at Columbus Circle. Founding Artistic Director Frances Hill and Producing Associate Peter Napolitano announced the benefit series for its Outreach programs which has three main components, Touring Library Programs, Residences and Summer Camp and Napolitano explained that because of his writing and directing assignments he was glad to delegate to other producers and the first one he wanted was Greenberg. Greenberg took a seat stage left and introduced the artists, most of whom had appeared at his Any Wednesdays series.
The star cast this evening included Billy Stritch, KT Sullivan and Jeff Harnar, Natalie Douglas, Cynthia Crane, Gary Crawford, Karen Oberlin, Daryl Sherman, Julian Yeo. Needless to say, each performer was in top form and each did two special numbers, although Sullivan and Harnar did multiple medleys from their current Sondheim series.
Stritch did multiple verses of “The Coffee Song;” Crane her crazy “Jose Cuevo” drunk song and then put together some tongue twisting lyrics to update Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes.” Crawford, with Barry Levitt at the piano, sang “Now That We’re Sure,” a Johnny Burke tune, and was heart-breaking on Thunderbolt, with lyrics by Peter Napolitano about the end of a love affair.
Fasano offered up one of the songs from her new CD “How Little We Know (How Little It Matters) by Phil Springer and Carolyn Leigh. She then told the funny Julie Wilson story (about appearing in her gym outfit once) and sang one of Wilson’s trademarks, a touching “But Beautiful.” Greenberg told a funny anecdote about blanking on Oberlin’s name when she did the Any Wednesday series with Miles Phillips and being admonished by her husband. Oberlin did a full version of “Autumn In New York,” talked about how we are in the midst of both autumn and winter and joyfully followed with the tongue twisting list song by Larry Kerchner “Winter in Manhattan.”
Yeo, introduced as a C.P.A. at Columbia, said he was wearing his gym outfit and sang, in his exquisite baritone, a beautiful “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” swinging on the second chorus on that classic from 1924.
Douglas is preparing a new album which will include Broadway songs. The first was the lullaby, “Sleeping Man,” and the second a song of hope that she said always inspired her when she was depressed. Sherman talked about Johnny Mercer and did a rhapsodic “Skylark” written by Mercer with Hoagy Carmichael. She spoke about Mercer and Blossom Dearie and told us that Dearie was the one who suggested Mercer write English lyrics to “Feuilles Mortes.” Then Sherman sang the wild Mercer lyrics to “I’m Shadowing You.”
KT Sullivan and Jeff Harnar merrily closed the show with medleys from their Sondheim shows, there are several songs from “Bounce” which melded into “It Takes Two” and “Side by Side by Side.” supported merrily by Jon Weber.
There are nineteen more shows in Winter Rhythms 2015. Performers include Klea Blackhurst, Tony Sheldon, Marissa Mulder, Bill Zeffiro, Raissa Katona Bennett, the Reverend Yolanda, Ed Clark and Sue Matsuki, David Vernon and Sarah Rice, Jana Robbins, Trezana Beverley, Brian Charles Rooney, Janice Hall, Adam B. Shapiro, Ricky Ritzel, a program by Michael Colby, a Jim Henson program, a Nicholas Levin program, and a Frank Sinatra Centennial Celebration on his 100th birthday, December 12.
Go to urbanstages.org and use ticket code WR20 for a discount to see any of the future show for only $20.00
*Photos: Maryann Lopinto