Wesla Whitfield and Mike Greensill @ Society Cabaret
“Wesla Whitfield in The Best Is Yet To Come!”
Society Cabaret, Rex Hotel, San Francisco, CA, January 13, 2017
The perennial couple of cabaret, Wesla Whitfield and husband/arranger Mike Greensill know that time is the great equalizer. In times of great turmoil, as were clearly witnessing now, there is room for optimism, cause the pendulum will once again swing. Representing both the classy and the classic, Wesla and Mike have been presenting the history of popular music for decades now, and this show comprised of many of the great songs of Arthur Schwartz, the couple are a testament to enduring quality.
Sandwiched between two eternally optimistic tunes, “Look for the Silver Lining” (J. Kern/B.G. DeSylva) and a sweet rendition of Irving Berlin’s “It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow”, the trio lovingly worked their way through tunes unsung for many a moon. “He Loves Me” (J. Bock/S. Harnick) and “East of the Sun” (Brook Bowman) display Wesla and Mikes style: perfect tone and phrasing, sterling arrangements and solid bass lines. First up in the Arthur Schwartz repertoire was “By Myself”, 1937’s much covered standard co-written with Howard Dietz. It would find a home in the 1953 musical comedy The Bandwagon, the first of three numbers culled from the film.
From their usual “wildly romantic ballad” portion of the show, Wesla crooned the wistful “Something to Remember You By” and “You and the Night and the Music” (Schwartz/Dietz) balanced by the composing team’s comic novelty song “Rhode Island Is Famous for You”, which Wesla and Mike performed at the Clinton White House.
Mike and bassist Dean Reilly took flight on “Starlight Souvenirs” (Lewis Llda / Reginald Connelly / Ted Shapiro) with Reilly playing the pocket trumpet. They followed that up with Schwartz and Dietz’s cute “Got a Bran’ New Suit”, introduced by Ethel Waters in the revue At Home Abroad (1935).
A set highlight was 1934’s “Then I’ll Be Tired of You”, Schwartz and Yip Harburg’s homage to enduring love. Wesla’s introduction to Leigh Harline and Ned Washington’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” belies her guarded optimism. She says “for everyone living in a fantasy, don’t come out”. Wesla and Mike, like the music they breathe, will out distance any temporary turmoil’s and I’ll gladly go along for that ride.