Quite a few years ago, Walter Cronkite spoke at a one-hundredth birthday celebration about a man who "helped write the story of this country, capturing the best of who we are and the dreams that shaped our lives." This particular man had over a sixty-year career of writing more the 1500 songs. Irving Berlin was this legend.
For the Cabaret at the Chanticleer Theater last weekend, the focus was the music of Irving Berlin. With so many songs written, it had to be difficult to choose the twenty-four selections for this fund-raising show. Musical director, Jerry Gray along with accompanist, Cheryl Haines led the group of experienced singers through the various selections of show stoppers, ballads, love songs, partner songs, and just some of the old songs with memorable melodies.
With so much music in a little over an hour, it was not easy to select my favorites. Tim Daugherty, Steve Gillespie, Boyd Littrell, Glenn Prettyman, Rachael Schnitker, Terry DeBenedictis, Kathy Gray, Sarah Meyers, and Denise Putman sang their ways into the hearts of many of the audience members. With many selections from "Annie Get Your Gun", there were character songs that are fun as well as some other old time favorites such as "White Christmas", "Easter Parade", "Alexander's Ragtime Band", and "God Bless America".
Many songs were reminscent of tunes song by Ethel Merman, Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Dean Martin. Of course with any performance, everyone has some songs that stand out as your favorites. These were the ones that were meaningful to me.
Boyd Littrell sang "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" and the haunting melody "What'll I Do?" Glenn Prettyman and Rachael Schnitker singing and dancing to "We're a Couple of Swells" was outstanding. Both have wonderful voices and a strong stage presence. "Old Fashioned Wedding" perfectly matched the light-hearted humor and the singing voices of Terry DeBenedictis and Tim Daugherty. Rachael Schnitkker and Sarah Meyers were wonderful with the song "Sisters". Kathy Gray and Steve Gillespie expressing their thoughts in "You're Just In Love" was fun to observe. Glenn Prettyman beautifully sang "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody". Tim Daugherty's "The Girl that I Marry" perfectly matched his range and voice as did Sarah Meyers' rendition of "They Say It's Wonderful" and Rachael Schnitker's "Let's Take and Old Fashioned Walk". It is still reassuring to here the old favorite "Count Your Blessings" sung by Denise Putman. Both Denise and Terry DeBenedictis showed their talent and experience with some great saves.
Some of the music could have better matched the singer or been transposed to a different key to better enhance the singers.
These cabarets always have an intimate setting with refreshments and a closeness with the audience along with well-loved music for a delightful and relaxing evening of entertainment.