On May 1, singer Erin Cross continued her tribute series “Erin Cross Sings Nancy LaMott,” at Don’t Tell Mama, with “On Broadway: The Music of Berlin and Rodgers & Hammerstein,” supported by Musical Director and pianist Tracy Stark and drummer Matt Carlozzi, with direction by Donald Garverick. This was, Cross pointed out, the same cabaret stage where the late, lamented LaMott—“my guardian angel, looking out for me,” Cross said—had performed.
In “The Big Black Giant,” from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Me and Juliet,” Cross smoothly and expressively limned the ever-changing theater audience, which must be appeased and entertained by the efforts of the actor. Speaking of “the eternal optimism” that Broadway shows convey, Cross went on to a sunny, swinging “Blue Skies,” written by Irving Berlin, also one of LaMott’s loves, for insertion into Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “Betsy.” In “I Have Dreamed,” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” our singer dulcetly probed the ecstatic romance, frustrated, but anticipated, that the song concerns. The arrangement was by Christopher Marlowe, with whom LaMott had made music.
Cross continued with a hot pairing of film songs, Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer’s “Jeepers Creepers,” from “Going Places,” and Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek,” from “Top Hat,” and suitably mixed in a soupçon of Maceo Pinkard, Doris Tauber, and William Tracey’s “Them There Eyes.” She returned to Rodgers and Hammerstein with a gently poignant, yearning “Everybody’s Got a Home but Me,” from “Pipe Dream,” and from “Allegro,” “The Gentleman Is a Dope,” frankly irritated, but with anger smoldering beneath the surface. From the team’s “Flower Drum Song,” Cross gave us “I Enjoy Being a Girl,” beginning up-tempo, as is traditional, but unusually slowing for a seductive section, in contrast, before going back to the original pacing, and then turned to a serious song from the same show, a touching “Love Look Away.”
In what was arguably the highlight of the afternoon, Cross dedicated a loving, moving “How Deep Is the Ocean,” by Berlin, not only to LaMott, but also to her own close friend Mike, who was to come to this show, but passed away two weeks before.
“I Got the Sun in the Mornin’ (and the moon at night),” appreciating simple things, of greater value than luxuries, from Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun,” was Cross’ exhilarating finale, and “It Might as Well Be Spring,” sweet and wistful, from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “State Fair,” was her quiet encore, and not at all a bad way to end
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