David Sabella performed his show Loopin’ the Loop and Vivian Reed appeared in her show Standards and More at the Metropolitan Room, New York.
Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩
At one of the last surviving venues of the Golden Age of New York’s cabaret scene, the legendary Metropolitan Room, two seldom seen seasoned Broadway performers treated us to their nightclub acts.
The original Mary Sunshine of Broadway’s Chicago revival, David Sabella celebrated the music of Kander and Ebb, along with the 20th anniversary of Broadway’s longest-running American musical.
Aptly titled Loopin’ the Loop, the talented, funny and moving Sabella took us on a ride from standards like ‘All That Jazz’, ‘Mr Cellophane’ and ‘A Quiet Thing’ to lesser-known material such as ‘The Only One’ and ‘You Know Me’, two gems from last year’s The Visit (Sabella appeared in the two workshop productions with Angela Lansbury & Chita Rivera).
Highlights of his love letter to the unforgettable songwriting team were his poignant delivery of ‘Life Is’ from Zorba, interloping with the famous ‘Roxie’ vamp and his encore to ‘I Move On’ from the Chicago movie, giving it a more uptempo swing treatment.
Actor, director and producer Jana Robbins served as special guest and Mark Hartman as musical director.
The following day the Broadway star of Bubbling Brown Sugar, Vivian Reed treated us to Standards and More with a four-piece band conducted by William Foster McDaniel.
Beginning with a wonderful mash up of ‘Just One of Those Things’, ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ and ‘I’m Gonna Live Till I Die’, the powerful-voiced Reed took us on an emotional journey through her life and music.
High-points of her eclectic selection were renditions of Sondheim’s ‘Losing My Mind’, ‘Believe In Yourself’ from The Wiz and a duet with opera singer Raun Ruffin to ‘Bluer Than You’.
Her heartfelt rendition of Edith Piaf’s ‘Mon Dieu’ hinted at her seven-year career in Paris which followed her headlining of the Paris staging of Bubbling Brown Sugar, a too-rarely-revived musical revue represented by an extensive medley. This culminated in her trademark version of ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ which really put Reed on the map in 1978 and which she managed to sing and dance up a storm as if it were yesterday!
Perhaps this had to do with her being too long away from the spotlight, taking a break from her career to look after her mother, but the multi-talented Reed never seemed as fresh.
Back on the boards last year at Studio 54 with the showcase of the amazing Harold Arlen musical One More For the Road, Reed is the consummate cabaret artist. Her final number, ‘More’, and her encore to ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ were delivered a cappella, showing off the strength of her powerful voice.
Her interaction with the audience and patter full of funny anecdotes were impeccable as well. We definitely need more of Vivian Reed in Paris and London should discover her at last.
* Vivian Reed is due back at the Metropolitan Room on 14 December.