OK, I’ve TiVoed the first episode, but I haven’t watched “Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook” yet. But it looks great. Here’s the Times review.
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.”
The NYTimes reviews the duo’s Broadway outing: “In “All About Me,” which opened on Thursday night, this most dominating of dames is given what feels like less than half a chance. The production also stars Michael Feinstein, the celebrated piano-playing crooner who possesses considerable gifts of his own. But they are of an entirely different stripe from the brasher talents commanded by Dame Edna. Seen side by side, in a production that brings to mind a desperately assembled television variety show from the 1970s, these two headliners clash like polka dots paired with plaid.”
Before I saw All About Me, the new revue pairing Michael Feinstein and Dame Edna, I stopped in to one of my favorite hole-in-the-wall pseudo-Japanese restaurants for a California roll and katsu-don. After the show, I had a slice of cheesecake from Juniors. And it occured to me that a California roll cheesecake was the sort of experience the show offered.
Michael Feinstein and Dame Edna are two gifted performers who do what they do very well. However, there is no earthly reason for them to be appearing together, and sadly they come off as less than the sum of their parts. The pixalated charm of Feinstein is an uneasy blend with the aggressive iconoclasm of Dame Edna. The concept, that each performer has contracted the theater for a solo show called All About Me, is as annoying as it is far-fetched. Neither performer has enough time to really get a toe-hold on the evening to establish any performance momentum (although Feinstein, at least when he gets to finish a song, seems to get more traction.)
The set for the show is obviously going for a 60’s variety show feel, but only succeeds in looking cheap. A stage manager character and chorus boys while featuring charming performers feel totally unnecesary. And interestingly, several songs listed in the program do not appear on-stage.
One of the show’s saving graces is the terrific band led by Rob Bowman. People who remember Bowen from his terrific work in DC in the ’80’s** will be happy to know that he looks terrific and still has that terrific mane of blond hair.
*OK, dear readers, I have to admit a little fib. I thought of the analogy during the show. But in the interest of journalistic integrity, I went to Juniors and got a slice of cheescake on my way back.
**My favorite memory is of Bowman in a red flannel nightshirt and cap during “Robin Baxter’s Chainsaw Christmas” in the old Wooley Mammoth space.
***I really wanted to title this post “Does Tomato Sauce Really Go Great With Chow Mien,” but felt that was one food reference too many.
Very dishy column by Michael Riedel about backstage life on the upcoming show, All About Me, starring that non-obvious pairing of Michael Feinstein and Dame Edna:
“Feinstein is miffed that he’s being relegated to the sidelines by Edna’s shenanigans, which are threatening to run away with the show.
“”Michael’s not laughing at the jokes Edna’s making about him,” a source says. “He’s upset that everything she does upstages him.”
My previous manager asked me what I wanted to achieve in my career that I hadn’t. I told him that I had a fantasy of having a nightclub but was mindful of the fact that every entertainer I knew who had a nightclub had not been successful, from Bobby Short to Julie Wilson to Chita Rivera. He suggested approaching the Regency Hotel because I had played private events for the Tisch family, which owns it, and liked them a great deal, and they were very receptive to opening a club. Because of their interest we were able to open Feinstein’s. And it’s been 10 years now.
Op-Ed piece in the NYTimes by Michael Feinstein on reactions to Christmas songs by Jewish songwriters: ”
In my holiday shows, I’m always looking for novel expressions of the season, and when I introduce a new song I don’t usually think about the religion of its creator. That said, I’m always pleased to discover a surprising juxtaposition. It doesn’t take Freud to figure out that the sugarplums, holly and mistletoe all tap into a sense of comfort, longing, security and peace that so many fervently desire; that we all wish the clichés were true. As Jews, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, Buddhists and everything in between, we are all more alike than we are different. That’s something to celebrate.”