Barbara Cook: You Make Me Feel So Young
The legendary singer's new show at Feinstein's at Loews Regency is thoroughly endearing.
After all, how can you not have a smile on your face as wide as Wyoming when Cook breaks out a kazoo (and plays it mighty well) in the middle of an infectious rendition of the great jazz standard "The Frim Fram Sauce." That inimitable number is one of 13 songs the octagenarian star is performing for the very first time in this show.
Indeed, one of the great pleasures of Cook's acts is her fondness for uptempo tunes, an increasing rarity in the world of cabaret where ballads and torch songs (as wonderful as they are) overly dominate most of her colleagues' shows. She always makes sure joy and sorrow are both doled out and savored.
In addition to a sprightly take on the show's title tune, Cook serves up a delciously zingy "This Can't Be Love," a breezy "Live Alone and Like It" (almost shockingly, the only Stephen Sondheim song in the act), and a zesty "Wait 'Til You're Sixty-Five" (from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever), among others.
The lightness of her touch is even evident in a brilliant "Here's to Life," which is full of meaning but free of bombast, and a version of "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?" (also from On a Clear Day) which drips with honesty but not self-pity.
Of course, Cook's way with the more serious numbers in the show are a lesson in interpretation, most notably in her mesmerizing versions of Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "I'm a Fool to Want You" (co-written by Frank Sinatra), both of which benefit from musical director Lee Musiker's superb arrangements.