Talent. It's why so many people descend on New York City -- to be it and to see it. The abundance of NYC-based talent amounts to an embarrassment of riches, which is both good and bad. The good part is obvious; the bad may be too but is understandably talked about less: the odds against all the talent succeeding. That's the thrust of this month's column. The gifts of the performers covered are present in carloads, but in a world where cabaret is so marginalized, are the broader opportunities available?
Susan Winter in 'Love Rolls On...' at the Metropolitan Room
Susan Winter only had to sing "What a day/Fortune smiled and came my way" at her recent Metropolitan stop when I got that old feeling -- the feeling that says something special is about to happen. By the time she reached the end of "Lucky to Be Me" (Betty Comden-Adolph Green-Leonard Bernstein), I was all but certain that fortune was smiling my way too. I'd noted how she was combining a cheerful mezzo and a solid sense of jazz swing with a great regard for a lyric. Her expertise was clear from the way she delivered a line like "I am simply thunderstruck/At the change in my luck" and thought about the meaning of the word thunderstruck before belting it.
Reporting that she'd been singing all her life but had taken a 34-year hiatus to teach, she indicated she's compensating for lost singing-career time with Love Rolls On.... It's a new show (I'd missed her earlier work) distinguished by many things, not the least its devotion to an upbeat attitude and its acknowledgment that in songs like Jane Paul and Susan Werner's "I Can't Be New" and Lee Wing's "An Older Man (Is Like an Elegant Wine)," she's unapologetically a woman of a certain age.
Which isn't to say the pintsized, perky Winter is ready for a rocking chair yet. She was so confident and entertaining that she made the most of superlative ditties such as the Milton Drake-Louis Alter "I Love the Way You're Breaking My Heart" (which she did with guest Geoff Stoner on ukulele) and the Carolyn Leigh-Cy Coleman "It Amazes Me." But more than that, she unleashed inspiring accompaniment in creative musical director Rick Jensen and bassist Dan Martin.