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Helluva Town: A New York Soundtrack

Real-life couple Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano offer up an extremely winning salute to life in the Big Apple at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room. logo
Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano
(© James Smith)
Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano aren't exactly the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of the cabaret set, but this musical and marital pairing of the suave Connecticut-born pianist-singer and the earthy Long Island-born vocalist can seem like a match of opposites. However, as the pair explain and demonstrate in their extremely winning (if slightly overlong) new act, Helluva Town: A New York Soundtrack, at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room, their shared love of the Big Apple is part of the glue that keeps them together.

Early on in the deftly written show, Fasano aptly describes this collection of songs as "an arbitrary iPod shuffle." And she couldn't be more right. Most of the traditional New York songs one might expect are nowhere to be heard, while some others the pair have chosen seem to only have a tangential connection to Gotham life. But, with rare exceptions, each selection comes off as a carefully considered gem.

Fasano, who sounds better than ever, once again proves herself to be a remarkably expressive singer, most notably on Joni Mitchell's haunting ballad "Marcie"; Harry Warren and Al Dubin's rarely-heard, slightly melancholy "The River and Me"; Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh's lovely "I Walk A Little Faster"; and Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green's exuberant "Comes Once in a Lifetime."

For his part, Comstock continues to show his versatility as a performer, delivering a poignant take on the Bernstein-Comden-Green standard "Some Other Time" and generating smiles on Harry Warren and Al Dubin's clever "She's A Latin from Manhattan."

As might be expected, many of the couple's duets also prove to be highlights, as they show off an easy chemistry and a gift for harmony on such diverse tunes as Marvin Harmlisch and Craig Carnelia's "I Canot Hear the City"; Jon Hendricks and Horace Silver's "Strollin"; Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"; and John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey's "I Wouldn't Trade You."

If, for some odd reason, you don't already love New York before seeing this show, you will by the time it's over. And if you aren't already fans of Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano, you will definitely be converted.

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