Feinstein is spectacular in Sinatra tribute
5/13/2011 10:30:56 AM
One thing is certain about Michael Feinstein’s performance Wednesday evening at The Palladium: It was nothing short of spectacular.
Always a consummate showman, even if he’s just accompanying himself on the piano, Feinstein pulled out all the stops at this primary venue of The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Ind., where he serves as artistic director.
Led by his music director, Bill Elliot, who also accompanied him on piano for some numbers, Feinstein was backed by a large orchestra. Further enhancing the Las Vegas-style quality of his show were backup singers LaTanya Hall, Margaret Dorn and Catherine Russell.
Titled “Michael Feinstein:The Sinatra Legacy,” this concert was repeated Thursday for a live audience and taped by PBS for airing at a later date. Through this show, Feinstein seeks to not only pay tribute to Frank Sinatra, the “chairman of the board,” but also to emulate the style of 'Ol Blue Eyes". In regard to both efforts, he faithfully meets his goals.
In a program that consisted mainly of Sinatra standards, Feinstein accompanied himself on the piano and also was accompanied by Elliot and the orchestra. Included in the program were such tunes as Rodgers and Hart’s “My Romance”; Cole Porter’s “So In Love”; Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight”; a mash-up of “Luck, Be A Lady,” from “Guys and Dolls,” and “All I Need Is A Girl,” from “Gypsy”; and “A Lot of Livin’ to Do” and “Put On a Happy Face,” from “Bye Bye Birdie.” Elliot also contributed some of the song arrangments in the program.
Demonstrating his virtuosity on the piano, Feinstein also showed his versatility, performing tunes outside the Sinatra realm, when he performed “Great Balls of Fire,” made famous by Jerry Lee Lewis; and “Brazil,” written in 1939 by Ary Barosso and made famous by the 1942 Disney animated film, “Saludos Amigos.”
A particularly tender moment in the evening came when Feinstein performed a ballad-like arrangement of “Fly Me to the Moon,” written in 1954 by Bart Howard. When introducing the song, Feinstein told the audience that he felt his version was closer to what the composer intended. Accompanied by guitar and bass, Feinstein infused this popular standard with an emotional content that gave it whole new dimension.
Not forgetting those of his fans present who love hearing him perform the music of George and Ira Gershwin, Feinstein took requests from the audience and performed a medley that included “Embraceable You,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and ‘S Wonderful.”
When he wasn’t sitting at the piano, Feinstein moved about the stage, mike in hand, keeping beat with the orchestra and projecting a vibrant energy that was non-stop. Between songs, he also showed off his talent for stand-up comedy and impressions, drawing frequent laughter from the audience for his clever quips.
As can be expected by one who is known as the ambassador of the Great American Songbook, Feinstein also showed his wide depth of knowledge about his chosen genre, as he shared information regarding the history of the music he performed and personal stories about famous entertainers he has known and worked with.
Concluding his show with “For Once In My Life,” recorded by Sinatra for his 1969 album “My Way,” Feinstein came back for an encore performance. Crediting Liza Minnelli for discovering him, he then paid tribute to her by singing Kander and Ebb’s “Maybe This Time,” which she sang in the 1972 film, “Cabaret.” Standing on the grand piano, Feinstein closed the show with a climactic rendition of “New York, New York,” also by Kander and Ebb, from the 1977 Martin Scorsese film of the same title.
For tickets and information about upcoming performances at The Center for the Performing Arts, home of The Palladium, call the box office at (317) 843-3800 or visit www.thecenterfortheperformingarts.org.
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