How Did You Get This Number?
Bay Area Cabaret, Venetian Room, San Francisco
November 4, 2018
Two-time Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin made a transcendent Bay Area Cabaret debut with her show How Did You Get This Number?, personal anecdotes of songs written for her, introduced by her or included in her many stage roles. From her sensational opener of Kander & Ebb’s “Sing Happy” from Flora the Red Menace, to her encore of the duo’s smash “New York, New York”, Baldwin cemented her position as one the stage’s finest leading ladies.
There’s no denying her ‘star quality’; a voice pure, clear and pitch perfect, combined with that innate ability to put the song over. You believe her intention and get drawn into each number as individual vignettes with purpose and, more importantly, great style. An example is her rendition of “Anytime, I Am There” from William Finn’s poignant Elegies, songs memorializing friends lost to AIDS. Baldwin works her magic on “The Wanting of You”, written by her composer accompanist Georgia Stitt and lyricist Marcy Heisler from a review titled Alphabet City Cycle. It’s a cool, hip tale of romantic obsession. A favorite audition song and a song she sang at her college graduation becomes a clever mashup on Frank Loesser’s “Somebody Somewhere” and Kander & Ebb’s lovely “A Quiet Thing”.
Baldwin had a breakout year in 2008, performing in a boatload of shows and tributes. She presented a medley of tunes from those shows that included tunes from: White Christmas (a San Francisco touring production with husband Graham Rowat), She Loves Me, and My Fair Lady; smart and funny stuff. From her Tony-nominated performance as the saucy milliner Irene Molloy from Hello, Dolly! she sang “Ribbons Down My Back” and two numbers from her starring role as Sharon in Finian’s Rainbow (“How Are Things in Glocca Morra” and “Look to the Rainbow”).
Showing off her comic talents, Baldwin tackled “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” from Company, a song normally performed as a trio. Her finale was the moving and emotional “I Don’t Need a Roof” from Andrew Lippa’s Big Fish and her powerful vocals moved the audience’s hearts. The lyrics from “Sing Happy” couldn’t be more prophetic for Baldwin’s deserved ascendency: “Assure me clouds are lined with a silver lining, say how you’ve realized an impossible dream”. The songs, the opportunity, the talent; a perfect confluence of factors that put Baldwin on the stage at the hallowed Venetian Room.