KT & Larry Remember Mabel & Bobby
Laurie Beechman Theatre
New York City

By Will Friedwald
The Wall Street Journal

In addition to celebrating Mabel Mercer and Bobby Short, the subtext of this Wednesday-evening run at the Beechman is the music of Bart Howard, who penned words and music for both cabaret icons. Pianist-singer Larry Woodard gets a chorus or so into Mr. Howard's "On the First Warm Day," and then KT Sullivan makes a rather stunning entrance: All of a sudden, she materializes in the middle of the room singing "My Love Is a Wanderer." Although she hasn't had a full-scale solo show in a high-profile room since the Algonquin closed, Ms. Sullivan reaffirms her position as an industry leader of this most intimate of art forms. Her interpretations of "When the World Was Young" and "Both Sides Now" parallel Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year"—she has but to utter two sentences, and at once, someone's whole life flashes before your eyes.

Impresario Scott Siegel knows well how to find talent: The second installment of this continuing late-night series included four cast members from "Storvyille" (now playing at the York), as well as the biblically oriented Broadway balladeer Kelli Rabke ("Stranger to the Rain," from "Children of Eden," is a stunner), and the charming Christine Lavine, whose original songs never fail to amuse. The major improvement would be to let the artists have a consecutive block of time rather than interspersing their numbers throughout the show: On Wednesday, pianist-singer Steve Ross was brilliant despite having to clamber on and off the stage three times (he started with "I Love a Piano," enhanced by a homage to Amadeus). Like KT Sullivan (with whom he guests on Aug. 14), Mr. Ross is a longtime night life institution, and an artist so urbane and sophisticated that he makes Bobby Short look like Redd Foxx.

KT & Larry Remember Mabel & Bobby
Laurie Beechman Theatre
New York City

Joel Benjamin
Cabaret Scenes
July 17, 2013
www.cabaretscenes.org

There probably isn’t a better pair than KT Sullivan and Larry Woodard to honor the memory—and repertoire—of cabaret royalty, Mabel Mercer and Bobby Short. KT & Larry Remember Mabel & Bobby took full advantage of their experience illuminating the Great American Songbook to bring to life songs like “I Can’t Get Started”/”You Are Too Beautiful” (Duke & Gershwin/Rodgers  & Hart), Woodard’s opening medley, and “Confession”/”You Are Not My First Love” (Dietz & Schwartz/Bart Howard), Sullivan’s.

Woodard accompanied himself, his voice slightly raspy, but hypnotically expressive.  He wittily tossed off a bit of “New York, New York” (Bernstein/Comden & Green) into the Rodgers & Hart classic “Manhattan.” He caught the world-weary sadness in Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and hilarious frustration of Ivor Novello’s “And Her Mother Came, Too.”

Sullivan, in her usual gorgeous evening gown and hat, added an unusual maturity to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” and an un-torchy darkness to “Body and Soul” (Green/Heyman/Sour/Eyton).

Together they presented a Burton Lane/Alan Jay Lerner comic ditty, “Wait Till We’re Sixty-Five,” about the joys of Social Security, and an upbeat “Before I Kiss the World Goodbye” (Schwartz/Dietz).

Guest singer Valerie Lemon found the loveliness in Carol Hall’s “Jenny Rebecca” and the sad optimism of “What I Did for Love” (Hamlisch/Kleban).

KT & Larry continue at the Beechman every Wednesday at 7 pm through September 18.