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Monday, May 4, 2015

There's Something Special About Kaye Ballard as Gretchen Reinhagen Explained

Gretchen Reinhagen returned to Manhattan's Metropolitan Room tonight and made it shimmer in her sparkly pants suit, singing the songs associated with living legend Kaye Ballard.  Special Kaye was truly a night to treasure. This is a reminder of why cabaret is such a lively, vital and essential part of NYC nightlife.

With a nod to changing times, Ms R cleverly replaced some famous names in her songs with those more recognizable today. Otherwise, her show pretty much represented the numbers associated or originated by Kaye Ballard. Very educational.

For example, Kander & Ebb wrote "Maybe This Time" for Kaye before it was an added number to the musical Cabaret.  Gretchen showed off her range from the start with the song "I'm Here" followed by "Young at Heart," She wrapped up her set with "Fly Me to the Moon" and the wonderful "I Told Ya I Loved Ya."

Cole Porter's "I've Still Got My Health" and Kander & Ebb's "Sarah Lee" and "My Coloring Book" were all delivered  humorously and poignantly, respectively. "Lazy Afternoon" was another highlight. The show makes it clear that, despite many show-biz setbacks, Ms Ballard was a fighter and survivor in the rough-&-tumble business called "show." In that, it was inspiring.

I never met Kate Ballard in person but adored her on tv when she was a regular on the talk-show circuit. My mom and my grandmother loved her as well. She was down-to-Earth, working-class and ethnic, and proud of it.

In the 1970s, my lover at that time, Marty, was casual friends with Kaye's brother, Paul Ballardo. Paul owned and ran a florist shop on Christopher Street right next door to Lilac's Chocolates. He was the most gentle, kind and loving man, and he adored his sister. (Marty owned and ran Unicorn City on Greenwich Ave., so they were fellow neighborhood shop owners,)

Of course, as a teen, I was a big fan of the tv series, The Mothers-in-Law, with Ballard and Eve Arden. And I loved her Kellogg's Special K tv ad and jingle:

"Im Special K Kate,
I'm watching my weight
I don't want to ever get fat....."

I still eat that cereal to this day, not that it helps me with my weight.

Thank you, Richard Skipper for another wonderful event  And thanks to the ever-polite and attentive staff at the Metropolitan Room.




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