A mirrored-disco ball’s shimmering rays and a dramatic black out visually accentuated the wistfulness of Melissa E. Driscol’s ravishing rendition of Kander and Ebb’s “Colored Lights.” This was one of the highlights of the beautiful tribute concert Dear Laurie Lawrence that was performed at The Duplex. “It was one her favorite songs” said Ms. Driscol.
Laurie Lawrence was an actress, singer and a beloved fixture on the New York City performing arts scene who died of a heart attack in 2017 at the age of 58. Held on November 22, 2019, this musical commemoration took place on the eve of what would have been her 60th birthday. The proceeds benefited one of her favorite of her many causes, the Big Brothers Big Sisters, of America of which she was a long-time and honored volunteer. A scholarship in her name has been established.
“Laurie, I know you’re up there sitting on that exit sign watching” said the event’s organizer and host, the gregarious and supremely talented MAC Award-winning (Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs) vocalist, Maria Gentile. Ms. Gentile presided over this brisk yet tender 70-minute paean to Ms. Lawrence’s generous spirit and effervescent personality, performed by those who knew and adored her. Gentile’s majestic Marvin Gaye medley was a standout. The smooth and affable John Bronston was on piano for much of the show.
“Every Time I Think of You” was given a soulful treatment by the charismatic Jay Rivera. The jovial Leo Rodriguez’ “Standing Outside the Fire” was wrenching as was an original song he wrote.
Sprawled out on the top of the piano, provocatively crossing and uncrossing her legs and waving a red boa while clad in a black sequined outfit, that comic master Susan Campanaro did an uproarious “When You’re Good To Mama” from Chicago and then moved through the audience with zest.
Ms. Lawrence’s standup comedian niece, Lauren Hope Krass performed two hilarious self-written musical compositions about Disney princesses and her dating travails as a large woman.
“Laurie taught me this” reminisced acclaimed cabaret pianist and vocalist Michael Isaacs before launching into his lovely version of Billy Joel’s “You’re My Home” and Mr. Isaacs’ performance of “Orange Colored Sky” was spellbinding. Isaacs was also at the piano for the moving finale. He sang a soaring rock-accented “Imagine,” joined by Gentile on tambourine, Bill Gotti on bass and the rest of the performers.
Dear Laurie Lawrence (November 22nd at 7:00pm)
The Duplex Cabaret Theatre, 61 Christopher Street, in Manhattan
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America: http://www.bigsnyc.org
Running time: 70 minutes without an intermission