Michael Feinstein and Barbara Cook
(© Rebecca Davis)
Michael Feinstein and Barbara Cook
(© Rebecca Davis)
Michael Feinstein has been brilliant in creating a series of duet nightclub acts with the likes of Christine Ebersole, David Hyde Pierce, and Cheyenne Jackson. He has, perhaps, outdone himself by teaming up with the legendary Barbara Cook for Michael Feinstein & Barbara Cook: Cheek To Cheek.

Rather than trying to squeeze their act into an artificial formula, these two musical greats have opeted simply to sing great songs -- and that proves more than sufficient to create an evening of great entertainment.

Feinstein has generously built the act around Cook, giving her every opportunity to shine; and she delivers several of the show's most memorable moments, including her delicately detailed rendition of "I've Got You Under My Skin"; "Where Do You Start?", which features a lyric by Alan and Marilyn Bergman that deftly suggested her loss of longtime collaborator, Wally Harper"; and "Here's to Life," the cabaret favorite that proves to be an ideal signature song for her.

For his part, Feinstein did the heavy lifting, singing most of the act's big, brassy numbers. He is in excellent voice, as he banged out such standards as "There'll Be Some Changes Made" and "You're Gonna Hear From Me." His vocal highlights, however, were the ballads, including a pensive take on "Without a Song" that morphed in the second verse into something more driving, and "Ever After," a tender rendition of the title song to the musical by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich. Most impressive, however, was the way Feinstein hilariously ad-libbed his way through clearly unrehearsed patter with so much wit and charm.

The duets between the two performers were generally light and breezy; there was nothing much at stake except the pleasure in watching them perform together. Nonetheless, music director John Oddo and the four other talented players on the stage provided exquisite support for the pair.