By Byrne Harrison
"And if he mentions Mitzi Gaynor, and he will, pretend you know who she is."
- Sideshow Mel, "All About Lisa," "The Simpsons"
It's inconceivable to me that anyone could not know Mitzi Gaynor. "My Blue Heaven," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Anything Goes," "South Pacific." Who doesn't know those movies? And you had to have seen at least one of Ms. Gaynor's many, many television performances.
If you missed all of those, you should consider dropping by Feinstein's to catch Ms. Gaynor's New York debut at Feinstein's, Razzle Dazzle! My Life Behind the Sequins, running through May 29th. While she may not have the same voice that she had in her heyday, she more than makes up for it with her stories about her show business career and her life on and off screen. These stories, featuring her friends and costars, including Ethel Merman, Howard Hughes, and some touching memories of her late husband, Jack Bean, are more than worth the price of admission. Getting to see her perform a "South Pacific" medley is just icing on the cake. In between songs, both modern and classic, stories and costume changes (featuring some stunning Bob Mackie creations), Razzle Dazzle! features clips from Gaynor's many television and film performances.
The show is not without it's flaws. As mentioned before, Ms. Gaynor's voice is not as strong as it used to be, and she has a tendency to be drowned out by the band (the accoustics in the Loews Regency ballroom leave much to be desired). The overuse of the keyboard in many of the songs gives the show a dated, somewhat cheesy sound. Brassy, bold, and bigger than life, Gaynor is not in the least bit dated, so there is a bit of a disconnect.
Overall, Razzle Dazzle! is a fun night out for fans of Mitzi Gaynor and fans of Hollywood's late Golden Age.
Razzle Dazzle! My Life Behind the Sequins
Starring Mitzi Gaynor
Director/Choreograhper: Tony Charmoli
Musical Arrangers: Dick DeBenedictis, Bill Dyer
Orchestrations: Colin R. Freeman, Nick DeGregorio
Band: Ed Czach (Musical Director/Piano), Paul Kreibich (Drums), Gary Nesteruk (Keyboard), David Finck (Bass)
For a taste of her show, see the video below (Featuring scenes from the full-length version of the show. The Feinstein's engagement is a shortened version of this show.)