Michael Feinstein and Barbara Cook
The pair's second show at Feinstein's at Loews Regency displays both their brilliant musical chops and their hilarious comic chemistry.
What's less surprising is that the evening is also a sublime musical experience. At age 84 and even fighting the effects of a cold, Cook remains a vocal marvel, still effortlessly hitting high notes that elude singers half her age. And Feinstein has matured into a masterful performer whose emotional depth now matches his formidable technical skills.
The show is loosely conceived as a tribute to singers and songwriters who have influenced the two headliners, which allows for plenty of standards from the Great American Songbook, with a strong emphasis on Irving Berlin.
After a hilarious prelude with Feinstein crooning "Beautiful Girls" while Cook enters wearing an elaborate feather boa, the show begins with a joyous duet on "I Got the Sun in the Morning." With the stars performing both together and singly, it's clearly a mutual admiration society, with Feinstein declaring at one point: "I love what I do, but I love it more when I'm doing it with you, Barbara."
Each has their moments to shine. Cook delivers a gorgeous rendition of "I Got Lost in His Arms," as well as the rollicking "Love is Good for Anything That Ails You," which she explains she discovered while watching HBO's brothel-set reality series, Cathouse. And she not surprisingly infuses "Here's to Life" with a hard-won, mature wisdom.
Feinstein nails a medley of "Let Me Love You" and "Let There Be Love," belting out the latter with all the stops pulled out, and stops the show with a devastating "Fifty Percent," from the musical Ballroom. And in honor of his co-star's 2011 Kennedy Center Honor, he delivers a version of "Hello, Dolly!" that features brand-new lyrics by Jerry Herman. The number also provides a welcome opportunity for the terrific band, led by pianist Mike Renzi, to fully cut loose.