Category Archive for: ‘Woody Weingarten’
Until the other night, I was a virgin.
No, it’s not what you think. What I mean is, I’d never been to Feinstein’s at the Nikko although the intimate, upscale nightclub has been open since 2013.
When pianist-singer Michael Feinstein and the San Francisco hotel near Union Square formed a partnership.
The 140-seat theater normally books cabaret performers. But lately it’s been putting on miniaturized performances of Broadway shows.
Which is why I went.
To see an old friend, Meg Mackay, as the eccentric, bohemian title character in “Mame in Concert.”
As well as cabaret luminary Sharon McNight.
Both lived up to my expectations.
Meg’s eye and facial movements, as always, were big. Her smile was big. Her singing voice, which as usual delivered both comic and serious tunes divinely, was big.
Her clownishness, too, was big — especially when she intentionally fell off a chair.
In case you missed my drift, her talent is — with no apologies to Donald — huuuuge.
The blonde bombshell, forever the compleat professional, smiled and even seemed enthralled while seated behind the other performers who bounced up and down from their chairs on cue.
That particular grin?
“Because I realized I could still be seen by the audience,” she confided to me afterward.
Meg the Marvelous, I’d privately dubbed the alumna of Beach Blanket Babylon, the touring company of “Torch Song Trilogy,” the Mountain Play, and countless one-woman shows and collaborations with her accompanist-husband, Billy Philadelphia.
And that was well before my wife and I hired her more than a decade ago to sing several songs on a demo of a musical revue we’d written, “Touching Up the Grey,” a predominantly comic peek at the aging process.
The mostly gay “Mame in Concert” audience appeared to adore all seven piano-backed singers (secure because they could peek into bluish three-ring binders containing the score).
McNight actually sat quietly through most of it, rising only thrice — to become the mischievous Vera Charles (the world’s greatest lush) and sing “The Man in the Moon (Is a Lady),” to parody lyrics of the title tune, and to join Meg in a duo that became the evening’s showstopper, the wonderfully bitchy “Bosom Buddies.”
McNight’s rubbery face made me laugh every time it moved — a perfect twitch here, a contortion there.
I’ve long been a fan.
Her website gives a hint why. It notes that she’s “played from Moose Hall to Carnegie Hall and anywhere the check doesn’t bounce,” has an “eclectic repertory [that] ranges from blues to country (yes, she yodels),” and “was one of two heterosexual women chosen as the Grand Marshall of San Francisco’s Gay Parade.”
Narrator Darlene Popovic also tickled me.
By giving a laundry list of Big Names — including Mary Martin and Judy Garland — who’d turned down the 1966 Broadway role before Angela Lansbury took on the Jerry Herman lyrics and music.
And imitating Phyllis Diller’s maniacal laugh.
Not incidentally, my spouse and I arrived early to eat up our $20-per-person minimum (that goes on top of the ticket admission). Our meals were, respectively, a scrumptious salmon Broadway Box (replete with soup ‘n’ salad) and Kobe beef burger and fries.
Because of the format’s limitations, several items were absent from the 90-minute production, though: slapstick sight gags, clever choreography and flamboyant costumes.
Still, for what it was, the show was killer. On second thought, make that splendiferous.
Upcoming performers at Feinstein’s at the Nikko, where admission generally ranges from $20 to $75, will include singer-actress Lucie Arnaz (Sept. 16 and 17), comedian Robert Klein (Oct. 20), “the voice of Broadway” Betty Buckley (Oct. 21 and 22), and another Show Biz buddy of mine, jazz singer Lua Hadar (Nov. 10).