TV/Broadway actress Anastasia Barzee made a stunning debut of her new cabaret show Barzee Sings Bacharach on April 18, 2013 and TheaterAdvisor was there. Using the Bacharach catalogue, Barzee explores the many ways we love; who we love, how we love, and why in the world do we keep doing it over and over again. In her show Ms. Barzee is backed up by the Kevin hays Trio (Kevin hays-piano, Rob Jost-bass, french horn and Greg Joseph-drums) and Teddy Kumpel on guitars and banjo.
Barzee enters the house during the introductory music to “Close to You” and surprised everyone as she accompanied her band and played the flute. Once she had gotten to the stage she paused and said, “What, you thought I was going to sing?” And we were off on a journey through the musical landscape of Burt Bacharach and his favorite lyricist, Hal David, with two exceptional exceptions. Ms. Barzee is an accomplished actress with great stage presence and a commanding, charming and funny personality. She kept the evening moving with hysterical stories related to the songs she sang and had the audience in rapt attention from the first note. After the opener, she moved on to Alfie (which you can listen to here), and what makes Barzee’s rendition compellingly different from others we have heard, and are so famous, is her connection to the material. In fact, throughout the evening her connection to the songs and the lyrics are what made this show such a standout in the world of Cabaret performances.
She followed Alfie with our favorite song of the night, “Anyone Who Had Heart” which she interpreted with a real rock and roll feel and at times reminded us of a young Janis Joplin as she threw her head back and sang with abandon. A heart-wrenching version of Bacharach and Elvis Costello’s collaboration “This House is Empty Now” was again followed by a funny story about Ms. Barzee’s early childhood introduction to Tom Jones. Of course, she had to sing “What’s New Pussycat?” after that and followed it with an emotional “Whoever You Are I love You” from the Bacharach/David score of the musical Promises, Promises, one of two musical theater songs of the evening.
Ms. Barzee then gave us a treat in that she previewed a new song from a new musical Bacharach is writing with the lyricist steven Sater (Spring Awakening) called “Ready to Be Done with You”. This gem of a song is part of the musical Some Lovers that premiered in San Diego at The Old Globe Theater in the Winter of 2011/12. An emotional song which requires not only a strong vocal command but an actors abilities, Ms Barzee shed light on the intricacies of a relationship gone sour with her performance. Her simple arrangement of “What the World Need Now”, accompanied by Teddy Kumpel on Banjo and Rob Jost on French Horn, aloud us all to focus the beauty of the lyric and the resonance of it message, which has particular resonance with the latest news here in the US. She even had the audience sing-a-long for the chorus of the song which brought everyone even closer to her on the stage.
“Be Aware” is a little known Bacharach song that Bacharach himself had suggested she sing in her evening. It is a hauntingly beautiful song with a message about taking care of each other and expanding our humanity. Once again Barzee brought out her flute, which she claims to have not played since college, yet she played with such skill we think she must be moonlighting in a Jean-Pierre Rampal band somewhere. She closed her set with a pop favorite, “There’s Always Something There to Remind Me” and left the audience cheering for more.
The sign of a good cabaret night is if the audience lingers in the house, and the buzz in the Metropolitan Room after her set, lasted a long time.
Attending the evening were several legends of the theater and film/TV and Theateradvisor has the exclusive photos.
Barzee Sings Bacharach will be performed three more times:
April 19 & 20 at 7pm
April 24 at 9:30pm
Tickets: $20, 2 beverage minimum
34 West 22nd Street, NY, NY 10010
For tickets visit: http://metropolitanroom.com/