BWW Reviews: Kaye Ballard and Liliane Montevecchi - Still Around and Still on Top Form!
No single word can adequately sum up Kaye Ballard and Liliane Montevecchi's one night appearance at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on August 8th.Their performance was engaging, entertaining, inspiring and uplifting, with a pace that never faltered and an array of talents guaranteed to keep the audience glued to their seats all the way through. In other words, it was a dose of good, old-fashioned entertainment.
The roughly two-hour show, aptly titled, STILL AROUND, can perhaps best be described as an artistic collage, encompassing story-telling, comedy, singing, mimicry, spontaneous audience interaction, jokes, memoirs and, of course, music. The music was provided by an accomplished eleven-piece orchestra, which was arranged on stage with the performers and was very much a part of the action all the way through. Major kudos to Music Director, David Geist, who also did an outstanding job as conductor and pianist.
Apart from a couple of numbers performed by the two of them together, these seasoned Broadway legends took the stage in turn, leading the audience on a magical journey back in time. Classics by Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, George and Ira Gershwin, Jule Styne and others, were interspersed with tales of their personal encounters with some of the great names of the past, such as Marlon Brando, Judy Garland, Shelley Winters, Fanny Brice, Fred Astaire, Lenny Bruce, Elvis Presley and others too numerous to mention. And, in spite of their years in the limelight and their obvious star status, neither displayed the slightest hint of self-importance or over-inflated ego. Even their behind-the-scenes stories were delivered with a casualness and honesty that brought them to life on a human level and never for a moment felt like bragging.
Watching these timeless performers in action, it's hard to believe they have both been around for over three quarters of a century. Kaye Ballard turns 88 this year and Liliane Montevecchi is approaching her 81st birthday. Unusually for these times, neither tried to hide the fact; on the contrary, they made a point of stating their ages, out loud and up front.
Maybe the fact that Montevecchi is French and a ballerina by training, gives her a head start. Her appearance in a slinky black dress, with a thigh-length slit up one side, revealing dancer's legs that go on for ever, did not seem out of place in the slightest. And when she threw her legs casually over her head, as effortlessly as if she were scratching her nose, or bent almost double in an exaggerated bow, that did not appear the least bit incongruous either. As she said, with her distinctive laugh, to a male member of the audience she was interacting with, "I really am old - I just look good."
Both of them not only look good, they also still sound good. In keeping with their different personalities, Ballard presented songs such as, 'Just in Time' and 'Some of These Days,' while Montevecchi delivered sultry numbers in both French and English, including, 'Je Cherche Un Millionaire' ('I'm Looking For a Millionaire') and Stephen Sondheim's, 'I Never Do Anything Twice.'
It was fairly predictable, if somewhat disappointing, to find that most of the audience could definitely be classified as seniors. Now that so much of the world of entertainment has been taken over and transformed by technology, the best of the past is in danger of becoming unfamiliar foreign territory to current and future generations. And, as Kaye Ballard and Liliane Montevecchi so masterfully demonstrated, that would be a tragic loss for us all.