Review: VENETIAN EVENINGS - A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO THE FAIRMONT'S VENETIAN ROOM At Venetian Room

Next up for Bay Area Cabaret is their season finale on April 14th featuring Broadway’s Funny Girl star Julie Benko.

By: Mar. 25, 2024
Review: VENETIAN EVENINGS - A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO THE FAIRMONT'S VENETIAN ROOM At Venetian Room
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Bay Area Cabaret presents…

Venetian Evenings – A Musical Tribute to the Fairmont’s Venetian Room

March 24, 2024

Venetian Room, San Francisco

Bay Area Cabaret, San Francisco’s local non-profit music presenter has used the Fairmont’s historic Venetian Room as its home base since 2010, and for this evening’s presentation paid homage to the legendary performers who trod the stage of the world-famous showroom since it’s opening in 1947. Executive Producer Marilyn Levinson handed the creative reigns over to longtime volunteer Jim Van Buskirk, theater director and playwright, F. Allen Sawyer and the night’s Emcee, BroadwayWorld’s Vocalist of the Year, Carole J. Bufford. It was an inspired move.

Bufford was congenial, enthusiastic, and well-informed of the history of the venue, offering tidbits and backstory to the song selections chosen among the hundreds of possibilities over the decades. She opened the show with Peggy Lee’s “Fever,” a cover of Edith Piaf’s “Non, je ne regrette rien” and a fantastic version of Eydie Gorme’s big belting “If He Walked into My Life.”

Bufford was joined onstage by three-time Tony winner LaChanze, who can crank up the energy level with her brassy mezzo-soprano voice. She paid homage to Lena Horne with a Jason Robert Brown swing arrangement of “Can’t Help Lovin Dat Man,” Ella Fitzgerald with “It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing” and Dionne Warwick with “Walk on By.”

Grammy-award winning jazz vocalist Jamie Davis lent his baritone to numbers by Mel Torme (“My Romance”), Nat King Cole (“Nature Boy”) and Louis Armstrong’s’ “What A Wonderful World.” The show was backed musically by Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Aaron Joseph Lington and his trio along with Casey Filson on the piano. Lington’s soulful sax elevated every song with his tasteful arrangements.

Highlights among the many chestnuts were Bufford’s handling of Nancy Wilson’s “How Glad I Am” and Cab Calloway’s “St. James Infirmary,” LaChanze’s rousing Tina Turner classic “River Deep, Mountain High” and Davis’ tribute to Lou Rawls on “You’ll Never Find.” The hallowed spirits of the Venetian Room legends would be pleased.

Next up for Bay Area Cabaret is their season finale on April 14th featuring Broadway’s Funny Girl star Julie Benko. Tickets available at: www.bayareacabaret.org




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