Sunday, February 17, 2013

I Hear The Bells (Television Review: Ring Them Bells, A Tribute To Kander & Ebb, Live From Lincoln Center, PBS)

I am loving the "Live From Lincoln Center" series more and more. This week they pay tribute to John Kander and Fredd Ebb (better known as 'Kander & Ebb') and their wonderful shows. The show features Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley with special guests Joel Grey and Chita Rivera. The show was presented at the wonderful Allen Room, overlooking Columbus Circle in New York City. The show features one wonderful song after another. Grey starts with a performance of "Wilkommen," an iconic performance of an iconic role he originated. You want to talk about star power? He hasn't lost his touch. Some of my other favorite numbers: Danieley singing "Sara Lee" (originally composed for Kaye Ballard about the dessert brand) and a wonderful "Seeing Things" (from the musical "Happy Time")  It was a wonderful switch to have Danieley sing "Maybe This Time," with understated elegance instead of the usual bombastic version the song usually represents. Chita - just Chita - brings the house down with the definitive "All That Jazz." Seriously, no one else comes close. And then you can see Grey do such a character piece like "Mr Cellophane" and marvel at how he makes every character his own. It was also great to hear "Love And Love Alone," from "The Visit," a musical that hasn't quite made it to Broadway just yet (and hopefully at some point will) It's a beautiful romantic song with a sweetly melancholy melody. Mazzie gives enough justice to "Ring Them Bells," but I just associate that song with Liza and Liza only.  "I Miss The Music" is a song from "Curtains" and Danieley sings it here. It's about a composer who misses his songwriting partner. Presumably, Kander wrote the lyrics, reminiscing about Ebb, who passed away in 2004. Mazzie then sings probably my favorite song from the Kander & Ebb canon, "A Quiet Thing," and it's maybe a little too frenetic for my taste. All four of them close the show with a medley of more ditties: "Yes,"  and "Cabaret." I know it's only an hour show, but I thought they left out a lot: nothing from "Kiss Of The Spider Woman," and yes it is ubiquitous, but a smidgen of "New York New York" would have been nice. But of course, I am more than thankful that this show exists. 

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