The divas were everywhere last night in downtown Manhattan, both onstage and in the audience. And by divas, I do mean this in the most flattering way as the evening's ladies are as pleasant as they are talented. Great voices, great songs carried us along in high style.
The night served as a promising launch for the month of April. Nick Lion and I got back together at last, first to see Gretchen Reinhagen at the Metropolitan Room at 7pm. I recently interviewed Ms Reinhagen ahead of her three shows (one per month) all at this classy, intimate cabaret and last night's offering, "Almost Blue," was largely a tribute to the blues and torch songs.
There was original material with words and music by the star as well as the evening's musical director, Tracy Stark. Mostly, however, we were treated to powerful interpretations of standards. The show opened with the Leiber/Stoller number, "I'm a Woman." through a 14-song set plus encore. Gretchen and her polished 3-piece, all-female band and two back-up girls received thunderous applause from a full house. She also scattered clever, funny patter throughout the show as a bonus.
Blues classics like "Stormy Monday" and "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" were included. A medley of ribald blues numbers loaded with sexual innuendo tickled the crowd. Joni Mitchell's "Blue" was on the night's menu as were Streisand-associated songs "Lazy Afternoon," "My Heart Belongs to Me" and "Enough Is Enough" (a duet with Ms Stark).
Yes, disco is aboard these days and trending in the clubs and cabarets. Once shunned, now embraced, these '70s classics are legitimately part and parcel of the Great American Songbook. (More about that in Part 2.)
In all, "Almost Blue" was a very satisfying, cohesive show. I look forward to May's show in the Reinhagen Redux series, a tribute to Kaye Ballard, "Special Kaye." (Metropolitan Room, May 4, 7 pm. Reservations again highly recommended. Box office: 212-206-0440. Press inquiries, please contact Richard Skipper at RichardSkipper.com .)
It was a pleasure to sit with Richard last night, who made several very amusing comments before and after the show. Nick and I later congratulated Gretchen, and it was a pleasure to meet her significant other, Deb Meyers. We also got to meet and talk with Tracy Stark, whom I wil be interviewing ahead of her Lesley Gore show at 54 Below in May.. I also introduced Nick to jazz vocalist Laurie Kranz who was in the audience and who thoroughly enjoyed the show. I doubt there was anyone who didn't.