BWW Reviews: Comic Actor Dan Frischman Turns to Cabaret @ Sterling's

By: May. 16, 2011
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On Sunday, May 15 comic actor Dan Frischman debuted a cabaret act @ Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's to a very enthusiastic crowd. Distinctly different from the normal fare @ Sterling's, which is usually a program of Broadway pop singing, Frischman's eclectic gig included magic, comedy and playing the trombone backed by a six-piece orchestra. There were two talented guest singers on the bill, Lani Shipman and Mitch Lewis, who served as backup vocalists; Shipman also performed a solo of a tune whose lyrics and music were composed by ... Dan Frischman. This is one very versatile man, this Dan Frischman, known to most from the 80s sitcom Head of the Class. He has a unique style of comedy that is at once charming and captivating. During his opening, for example, he made three different color paper flowers appear in a hand-held vase as he moved, swayed and sang "All I Wanna Do". What a character!

Musically the evening included some big band numbers, swing and even country - well, a Yiddish folk song "Rumania, Rumania" that he sang in honor of his grandfather. When he was a kid, Frischman's grandpa would say, "You speak English well, but when you speak to me, speak in Yiddish so I can understand." It was a vibrant number, that as Frischman elaborately explained, tells of a passion for drinking wine and eating good food. Only a true Jewish man can carry off the dynamics of a number such as this and Frischman gave it his all! There was a very humorous, unusual Tom Waits tune "Step Right Up" that requires some fast talking like a barker at a carnival peddling his products. Fine acting chops! "Hanky Panky" brought out Frischman's trombone, which he played with panache. Another very eclectic number "Fixing a Hole" included a story about a haunted house and a friendly ghost in the guise of a white handkerchief shimmying about the microphone and on Frischman himself. Clever stuff! He also performed a couple of crazy jazzy tunes "Cherry Poppin' Daddy Strut" and "The Snake". On a more traditional note, there was a cute "One For My Baby" where he pretended to sit at a bar and tell some funny jokes to Joe the bartender as he crooned, and then as encore a fast-paced "One Note Samba". Shipman displayed a great set of pipes on Frischman's "Whatever Happened To Me?" and Lewis did a fun voice-over bit. The band was wonderful throughout and included: musical director Ben Armentano at piano, Chris Pinnick on guitar, Lynn Keller on bass, Greg Burnham on drums, Eitan Avieneri on trumpet, and Steve Catalano on sax and clarinet.
Great jazz combo!

This was hardly a traditional gig from the standpoint of music or standup comedy. Dan Frischman is best described as a variety entertainer, totally rare in this day and age: a one-of-a-kind raconteur who acts, sings, tell jokes and even throws in a few magic tricks for the fun of it, as he completely entrances his audience. He is a delightful comic persona, and I hope his enjoyably varied act turns into something other than a one-time gig.