arts 10.14.05

Here's to the Ladies

There's a moment on the live recording of Ella and Sinatra singing "The Lady is a Tramp" that we've always treasured. About half-way through the swingfest, Ella gives an unexpected growl to "I don't like crap games with barons and earls" and it always strikes us as the most wonderful sucker punch. It's as if Ella throws out the challenge: 'You think I'm all sweetness and light, get a load of this' and she lets you have it, laughingly proving the song's point, and she's gone eight bars before you know what hit you.

We have a weakness for those ladies who pack a mean sucker punch, slipping out of nuance into tour de force and back again. It's why we're particularly enamored of Christine Andreas (pictured) and her CD from a few years ago called "Here's to the Ladies" in which she pays tribute to some of the grand dames of the theatre (among them: Mary Martin, Streisand, Merman, Barbara Cook, and Julie Andrews). The rapturous and age-defying Ms. Andreas brandishes her own formidable arsenal on that album; in a better world, we would already have younger singers assembling tributes to her.

Legendary ladies never need to make a comeback, though they occasionally make a return. This season has a welcome crop of them:

Carol Channing is at Feinstein's at the Regency, Tuesday through Saturday, until October 22.

Elaine Stritch is performing at the Carlyle through October 29.

Chita Rivera begins previews of her musical autobiography called "The Dancer's Life" on Broadway November 23rd at what was the Plymouth Theatre (it sticks in our throat to have to call it the Schoenfeld).

Patti Lupone, junior-division legend, has a pie-baking gig at the Eugene O'Neill (soon to be renamed, no doubt, the Gladys Rackmil) in Sweeney Todd.

The indefatigable Barbara Cook has a new CD out called Tribute, which honors her late collaborator Wally Harper.

Now if someone would just lure Karen Morrow back to town, we'd be eternally grateful.


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