Barbara Cook in Playbill

September 11, 2011

Barbara CookGreat interview in with the great Barbara Cook:

“Question: How does it compare for you — singing in a room like Feinstein’s with singing in a concert hall?
“Cook: Well, the work is the same, it’s just very often a gesture for instance. If you’re talking to a friend across a table, the gesture would be different than if you were talking to a person across the street, and it’s an automatic adjustment. But, basically, the work is the same, and, of course, the microphone makes all the difference… because if you didn’t have the microphone you’d have to really be “singin’ out, Louise” and there are certain songs you couldn’t do. You couldn’t do them because it would not be appropriate to sing them in that fashion. The microphones changed all of that.”

Stephen Holden on Barbara Cook

June 11, 2011

Stephen Holden reviews the nonagerian in the NYTimes:  “Attending a Barbara Cook concert nowadays is like consulting an oracle. She’ll advise you, to the best of her knowledge, on how to proceed. From there on, it’s up to you.”

The Best !!!!!

September 16, 2010

Sondheim on Sondheim CD ImageI just got finished listening to the new cast album of Sondheim on Sondheim again.  Really, this is for my money the best album that’s been released in a long while, and I can’t imagine anything topping it in the near future.

It features stellar performances by Barbara Cook (appearing at the Birchmere next month), Vanessa Williams, Euan Morton (currently in Chess at Signature), Leslie Kritzer (soon to appear at Arena).  There’s a balance of classic Sondheim material as well as unknown gems (like The Wedding Is Off, apparantly a previous version of Getting Married Today). 

Get and enjoy!

Critics on Michael Feinstein & Barbara Cook

September 9, 2010

Critics weigh in on the pairing of Michael Feinstein and Barbara Cook at Feinstein’s at the Regency.

Stephen Holden in the NYTimes: “When Barbara Cook sighs the word in the opening phrases of “Cheek to Cheek,” the title song of her duet show with Michael Feinstein, you really feel as if she had just found paradise. And so have you.”

Frank Scheck in the NYPost: “It was Michael Feinstein’s 54th birthday Tuesday night, but it was the audience at his namesake nightclub that received the present.

“It came in the form of “Cheek to Cheek,” the new show co-starring the fabulous Barbara Cook. Like his previous collaborations with Cheyenne Jackson and David Hyde Pierce, it shows that Feinstein plus one is greater than the sum of its parts — his shortlived outing with Dame Edna being a notable exception.”

Barbara Cook in the NYTimes

November 23, 2009

Great tribute to Barbara Cook in the Sunday Times.

Michael Riedel Interviews Barbara Cook

April 27, 2009

An interesting double dose of Barbara Cook in Michael Riedel’s column today.  First is a report that Cook may be returning to Broadway in the newly-resuscitated-show-with-a-terrible-title — iSondheim.  More importantly, there’s a great video interview, including snatches of song from the legend.

Discount Barbara Cook Tix

February 3, 2009

WPAS is offering subscribers to this blog discount tickets to Barbara Cook’s show at the Kennedy Center next Monday, 9 February at 8:00pm.  She will also be doing an interview with the Smithsonian’s National Treasure Dwight Blocker Bowers on Tuesday.  Details below.

 Hi Michael,

I work for the Washington Performing Arts Society and our Director of Programming sent me your e-mail address. We’re presenting Barbara Cook at the Kennedy Center on February 9 and we’re trying to reach out to the musical theatre/cabaret/Broadway community in DC. We’d love to offer you and your readers a 20% discount to this performance. Would you be willing to include info about this discount and performance in an upcoming blog post? Here are the details:

Barbara Cook

Monday, February 9 at 8pm

Kennedy Center Concert Hall

When Broadway legend Barbara Cook performs, audiences “are cradled in delight, empathy, laughter or tears, and something as close to bliss as we’ll ever know in the theater. It is … by the ear and heart, a continuous moment of undiluted ecstasy” (New York Magazine).

Tickets start at $28 (this includes a 20% discount)

To redeem this discount call either (202) 785-WPAS (9727) or Kennedy Center Instant Charge at (202) 467-4600 and mention code cook20.

The evening after her Kennedy Center performance Barbara Cook will appear in WPAS’ Conversations with Legends at the 6th and I Historic Synagogue. She will discuss her legendary career with Dwight Blocker Bowers, Curator of American Entertainment History at the Smithsonian. Click here for more information.

Thank you!

Jenny Houghton / Marketing Coordinator / Washington Performing Arts Society

Favorite CDs of 2008 — Part I

January 3, 2009

I know, I know.  The point of the New Year is to look forward, not back.  However, here are what I would consider the top cabaret CDs of 2008.  In the next post, I’ll deal with some titles that are not quite so squarely in the genre.




As the always-insightful Emily Everson opines, there’s Barbara Cook, and then there’s everyone else.  Although this is far from being her best CD, she continues to be the towering presence in contemporary cabaret work.  And the good news is that Lee Musiker is getting some style and inventiveness back into her arrangements.  Who ever knew that “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” could be a portrait of a stalker?


Any available new Nancy LaMott tracks have to be a “must have.”  The material assembled here shows a wide range of LaMott performances.  Time to feel thrilled all over again.


This CD reconstructed LuPone’s Les Mouches act from the late 70’s from a box of cassettes of various performances.  The CD has an amazingly “live” feel and shows an exciting personality at a critical point in her career.


Probably the CD I’ve listened to the most this year, this recording is what every cabaret artist should aspire to.  It has amazing vocals ranging from warm, to sassy, to embracing, to heartbreaking.  The arrangements show Chris Denny’s combination of flawless taste and understanding of Mason’s gifts.  The material includes fresh takes on familiar material as well as a new Paul Rolnick number.

Haunted Heart

I really agonized over including this, because I don’t want it to seem too much like “one for the home team.”  But I have to add it because I think  it’s a terrific CD.  The song selection has variety and the CD contains songs people really love!  I especially think the medley of Blackberry Winter and Autumn is inspired.  Rick Jensen contributed stunning arrangements and beautiful piano work.  And, of course, Ron’s vocals are great!

So did I miss your favorite cabaret CD of the year????

Holiday CDs: The Classics

November 30, 2008

Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!Karen Mason’s recording, Chistmas! Christmas! Christmas!, is probably the one CD I have to play every holiday season.  Mason is famous for the tradition of a live show, and this wraps up amazing humor, heart and singing into one glorious gift package.  And before Mason, I never knew that We Three Kings was a torch song or an eleven-o’clock number!

Just in Time for ChristmasLaMott combines her melted-chocolate sound with a great mix of standards and then-new material.  I don’t understand why more people don’t do the holiday lyric to Stay With Me, and the unexpected medley of I Saw Three Ships and Bring a Torch Jeanette Isabella combines two holiday songs that I never really understood into a lovely coherent package.

My Christmas Song For YouMarcovicci delivers a selection of holiday classics informed by Shelly Markham’s terrific big band-flavored arrangments.  My favorite selection here is Blue Champagne with a 3am on New Year’s Day feel.

This ChristmasCallaway’s jazz-infused vocals give a peppery dash to the holiday season.  In addition to an amazing vocal to Carol of the Bells, the CD features two terrific songs penned by Callaway, This Christmas and God Bless My Family (joined by her sister Liz Callaway).

A Cabaret Christmas This CD has a variety of artists performing holiday standards.  Highlights including Margaret Whiting’s Christmas Waltz and Dorothy Loudon’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  Barbara Cook’s track here of White Christmas defines “sublime.”

Count Your BlessingsCook delivers fairly standard fare with her standardly excellent vocals and lovely, lovely Wally Harper orchestrations.  The really amazing moment on this CD is a gospel-tinged version of He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands accompanied by banjo and harmonica that feels like one is visiting a small Georgia church on Christmas Eve. (Interestingly, I prefer the Cabaret Christmas version of her singing White Christmas accompanied only by Wally Harper on piano over the lushly orchestrated version on this CD.)

New Barbara Cook CD

November 15, 2008

Rainbow Round My Shoulder

In my excitement over the Patti LuPone release, the other important cabaret CD of the week, Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder by Barbara Cook, totally went off my radar.

Of course Cook sounds amazing, and she delivers all her material with her trademark combination of beautiful singing with intellectual and emotional clarity. And she delivers a well-balanced combination of standards and lesser-known material.  Interestingly she has chosen to re-record two Sondheim songs combining them with pop standards.  The I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Right Myself a Letter / I Wish I Could Forget You rpresents a fascinatingly original stalkerish take on the first song; Lost In the Stars / No More presents a great reading of the Weill standard with a version of No More that has grown significantly since her last recording of it (and it doesn’t hurt to have a full orchestration this time, either).

I have to say that her collaboration with Lee Musiker is starting to pay off. Her arrangements are starting to get some distinct musical ideas again instead of simply being very pretty, very competent standard accompaniments. However, I long for her to do another wacky-but-it-works moment like the kazoo/tuba break in Them There Eyes.

1. There’s a Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder – Barbara Cook, Jolson, Al
2. Where or When – Barbara Cook, Rodgers, Richard
3. Cookin’ Breakfast for the One I Love – Barbara Cook, Rose, Billy
4. He Loves and She Loves – Barbara Cook, Gershwin, George
5. Lucky to Be Me – Barbara Cook, Bernstein, Leonard
6. If I Ever Say I’m Over You – Barbara Cook, Bucchino, John
7. Sooner or Later – Barbara Cook, Wolcott, Charles
8. I’m Through with Love/Smile – Barbara Cook, Kahn, Gus
9. Love Is Good for Anything That Ails You – Barbara Cook, Friend, Cliff
10. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter/I Wish I Could Forge – Barbara Cook, Ahlert, Fred
11. Harbour – Barbara Cook, Allen, Peter
12. Old Devil Moon – Barbara Cook, Lane, Burton
13. Lost in the Stars/No More – Barbara Cook, Weill, Kurt
14. Hallelujah, I Love Him So – Barbara Cook, Charles, Ray
15. For All We Know – Barbara Cook, Coots, J. Fred

(Ron made the insightful comment that Cook’s pictures are starting to resemble that other Southern cook — Paula Deen.)