Thursday, May 2, 2013

cabaret review BARBARA COOK, 54 Below, April 25

Barbara Cook is a powerhouse.  As she approaches her 86th birthday she really shows no signs of slowing down.  Her voice is still strong and clear, her memory impeccable and the only thing that seems to be getting in her way of going on forever is her knees and back, which she says give her plenty of pain. 

Her concert series at 54 Below began last week and continues through the end of this week.  While she is performing almost the exact same set list from when we saw her at the McCarter back in November, the small size of 54 Below and having Barbara only being about 10 feet in front of you when she performs adds a level of intimacy that you just can't achieve in a larger space.  The way that she connects to a song, not just in the phrasing but with her facial expressions and body language, rises to a whole higher dimension when there are only two people between you and Cook. 

Now we've seen her perform several times over the past ten or so years, including her celebrated Broadway concert at Lincoln Center, and Barbara has only gotten more personable, including telling some great stories as well as commenting on her own personal issues, which are mainly health related.

Not really much for me to add about her song selection that I didn't already say when she performed this show in the Fall at the McCarter except to say that her delivery of the material has only improved as she has gotten even more comfortable with the songs.  All but two of the songs come from her recent "Loverman" recording, which includes a spectacular coupling of "House of the Rising Sun" with "Bye, Bye Blackbird" as well as a beautiful version of "Loverman."  For this concert, as well as the McCarter one last Fall, Barbara also sang an emotionally personal take on "Here's To Us" as well as an un-miked "Imagine."

Barbara's Official Site

54 Below site

Clip of Barbara singing at 54 Below:

Barbara sings "Vanilla Ice Cream" from She Loves Me:

Some vintage Barbara:

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