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Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Deborah Grace Winer is at it again and the city breathes a sigh of relief.

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

It was hot, steamy, and sultry in New York City on Sunday night. And that temperature was not exclusively restricted to the out of doors because Sunday night at 5 pm Dizzy's Club at Lincoln Center presented the new Deborah Grace Winer series SONGBOOK SUNDAYS with an hour of Gershwin and it was one smokin' hot hour of entertainment.

GOT GERSHWIN was the inaugural production of Songbook Sundays and, as usual, Deborah Grace Winer has come to play. Starting this exciting new series off with Gershwin and Tony Award recipient Karen Ziemba tells everyone, from Lincoln Center to industry folk to the general public, that the series she is creating here is one that everybody can rely on for quality entertainment. Quality entertainment is not something new to Deb Winer, and it showed in every marvelous moment that she and team Songbook Sundays presented, as the temperatures inside and outside rose to the heights.

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Showing against the spectacular view of Central Park West, the park itself, and, off in the distance, the East Side of Manhattan, the opportunity to witness so meticulously crafted a musical program featuring talent of this caliber is like taking a step back into the past, into the kind of movie musicals from whence cometh the compositions Winer and co. were highlighting with their efforts. With Ms. Winer's indisputable encyclopedic knowledge of The Great American Songbook and her most welcome ability to expound upon this history without sounding like a college professor lecturing students, the atmosphere at Got Gershwin was as sexy and sophisticated as the works of the Gershwins require, but as comfortable and relaxed as a balmy summer afternoon could hope to be. Ms. Winer set the tone wonderfully, and Musical Director Tedd Firth set the swing perfectly, for, with Mr. Firth leading the way musically, no other outcome could be possible, other than perfection.

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Employing the artistry of three exquisite musicians (Endea Owens on bass, Bryan Carter on drums, and Summer Camargo on trumpet), Firth and Winer could easily have opened and closed their hour of live music without a single word being sung, and the audience would have been satisfied. These four musical artists are at the top of their game, as lively and vivacious in the physicality of their performances as their music was outstanding and exciting to hear. But when working with the songs of The Gershwins, the lyrics are essential to the storytelling, and the presence on the stage of singing actors is imperative. And, here, Deborah Grace Winer spared no effort in her desire to please her audience and honor The Gershwins

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Resplendent in royal blue and with a smile brighter than the sun filling the windows behind her, Karen Ziemba was the right choice to bring the Gershwin songs to life. The one-time star of the Gershwin musical Crazy For You has a clear understanding of what a singing actor needs to tell a tale in the Gershwin way, and she applied it to each of her three solos in that magical Ziemba way that has had the world besotted by her, since about the time she appeared at Carnegie Hall in a little red fringe dress. Whether belting out "I Got Rhythm" in her Broadway best or lulling the crowd into a dream state with an "Our Love Is Here To Stay" that could soothe even the crankiest New Yorker, Ms. Ziemba provided a foundation to Winer's evening that allowed her co-stars to pull out all the stops, which is what they did, each of them in their own delicious way.

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Sydney James Harcourt is a working New York actor and concert performer and Georgia Heers is a recent New York City transplant studying at Juilliard, and both of these provocative performers would better serve the public as the newest smash-hit musical acts of the business. As, one number after the next, the two singing storytellers astonished the audience, their individual styles and strengths emerged, with Harcourt further raising the heat and Heers cooling things down, once more. Mr. Harcourt's pithy ability with Firth's jazz arrangements was enviable on a frisky "A Foggy Day" and a flirtatious "How Long Has This Been Going On?" while Ms. Heers inspired gasps and sighs from her first notes sung to her final bow, embodying the smoothest, silkiest sounds of George and Ira, whether working with a ballad ("The Man I Love") or something with more pep ("Nice Work If You Can Get It") and with each of their numbers, the stellar soloists enjoyed having their artistry enhanced by their instrumentally inclined colleagues on the stage. With Ms. Ziemba leading the way, the talented twosome rounded out a foolproof example of Deborah Grace Winer's powers of curation.

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Each of these actors had a part to play, in the revue format, but they also had parts to play in the Gershwin canon, and Deb Winer sees and understands both of those things. She and Firth cast these parts spectacularly, in order to check off all the boxes, with Ziemba powerful and glamorous in the Star role and Heers appearing sensual and mysterious in the Siren part, and Harcourt acting sexy and playful as the Rapscallion. Even outside of the confines of a play "S'Wonderful" is a character-driven story, and in order to get that story and character across in four or five isolated minutes, one must have a great actress like Karen Ziemba. Georgia Heers is so surprising a revelation that when she stands completely still and sings "When the mellow moon begins to beam every night I dream a little dream and of course Prince Charming is the theme, the he for me" she is doing it in so unique and original a fashion that one might find oneself asking, "Do I know this song?" and when Sydney Harcourt is serving all the sizzle in the world on "Sweet and Lowdown," you might just be disappointed when he does not, in fact, break out into a soft shoe or, better yet, a time step. The unimpeachable cast all played their parts magnificently and, after an hour of solos, enjoyed closing out the day with a rousing "Fascinatin' Rhythm." It was, from start to finish, an afternoon of live music that one wished would never end, which is why it was so exciting to hear that Winer's next outing with Songbook Sundays will be a July exploration into the creations of Cole Porter -just thinking about it makes the mind reel and the mouth water. If GOT GERSHWIN is any indication of what Songbook Sundays will be serving up every other month, then Deborah Grace Winer, Lincoln Center, Dizzy's Club, and Manhattan all have a gorgeous year ahead of them.

Who could ask for anything more?

Jazz At Lincoln Center and Dizzy's Club can be found online HERE.

Deborah Grace Winer's website can be accessed HERE.

Karen Ziemba has a website HERE.

The Sydney James Harcourt website is HERE.

Georgia Heers does not appear to have an online presence.

THIS is the Tedd Firth website.

HERE is the Endea Owens website.

Bryan Carter's website is available HERE.

Summer Camargo can be followed on Instagram HERE.

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Bryan Carter

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Endea Owens

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Summer Camargo

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Tedd Firth

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club

Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club Review: SONGBOOK SUNDAYS Makes Impressive Debut With GOT GERSHWIN at Dizzy's Club Photos by Stephen Mosher


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher