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Billy Stritch

The New York Pops Underground Cabaret featuring Max von Essen

October 9, 2021

Von Essen did sing a couple of songs from a living composer, one Andrew Lloyd Webber. He relayed the story of going on for Ricky Martin in Evita, where the curtain had to be held so that all the box office refunds could be processed; he won the sympathy of every ear in the house on that retelling. He also declared that although auditions for both the parts of Raul and the title character of "The Phantom of the Opera" did not yield successful results for the Broadway production, he did get to play said Phantom in "Love Never Dies," which was a perfect segue to “Till I Hear You Sing.” It seemed the evening was specifically shaped to present this “power ballad” as the 11 o’clock number, and von Essen truly pulled out his most formal, rich and dramatic voice for it, earning him spontaneous applause in the middle of the song and even a few standing ovations afterward. As for the other Webber song, well, I did not think I’d ever want to hear this song again, in or out of its "Evita" context; yet von Essen put Magaldi completely aside and sang a most stunningly beautiful and exquisite version of “On This Night of a Thousand Stars” as one could ever imagine hearing. His sublime and subtle tenor notes were completely glorious, and this song became the superlative number of the evening for this listener. [more]

On the Town with Chip Deffaa: As Nightclubs Begin Coming Back

July 20, 2021

Gianni Valenti, who runs one of the city’s best-known and most important nightspots, Birdland Jazz Club on 44th Street, deserves a lot of credit for leading the way.  He was one of the first club owners to announce plans to reopen.  He’s reopened strong, booking lots of respected artists, like Delfeayo Marsalis, Allan Harris, Ken Peplowski, etc. (For Birdland's full schedule, go to www.birdlandjazz.com.)  And he’s keeping prices as low as possible to make sure the place is packed.   For many shows at Birdland this summer, you can buy tickets online and pay only a nominal cover charge—some nights just 99 cents (plus a service charge).  That’s the same cover charge the club had when it first opened way back in 1949. [more]

Saloons: Some Enchanted Evenings

May 14, 2016

Cabaret has always been a mixed bag. The golden age is gone. However, in today's schizo world of nightclubs, things are looking pretty good. It is a milieu unique in the entertainment industry. And, it continues to reinvent itself. The late cabaret critic Martin Schaeffer wrote in Back Stage in 1993,“There cannot be a better night of classic American music than a Bobby Short gig at The Carlyle.” He was right; especially if you're a purist of the Great American Songbook. [more]

Witchcraft: The Jazz of Cy Coleman

March 22, 2016

“He was tied to the life of jazz clubs,” said Billy Stritch of Cy Coleman, the subject of The 92nd Street Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series Presents: "Witchcraft: The Jazz Magic of Cy Coleman." Mr. Stritch was the personable host, artistic director, and performed on piano and was a vocalist along with four other talented singers during this very entertaining and jazzy concert. [more]

Broadway by the Year: The 1930’s

February 25, 2016

Though most of the performances of the evening were solely from vocalists, some of the performers showed versatility by playing with various different instruments. This added a refreshing amount of variety, and led to a handful of outstanding performances. Pianist and singer Billy Stritch performed in the first act, and the combination of his smooth vocals and stride-style piano was a welcome treat. The highlight of the evening for Stritch was “Comes Love” (Yokel Boy), which earned mid-song applause from the audience. Also showing versatility was Nellie McKay, who—at different times—performed on both the piano and the ukulele. McKay, who possesses a voice with an almost calm quality, is to be thanked for some of the more subtle, quiet, moments of the evening. [more]

Linda Lavin: Starting Over

September 8, 2015

Dressed in black slacks, a sequined white blouse and a gray blazer, the svelte, energetic, and soon to be 78 year-old Tony Award-winning stage and television star dazzled in an eclectic program of songs and anecdotes. Possessed of an outstanding, expressive character voice she was supported by an accomplished band. [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “New York: Songs of the City”

March 31, 2015

Lyrics & Lyricists artistic director Deborah Grace Winer was the show’s host. Charming, and with dry humor and passion, Ms. Winer delivered informative and entertaining commentary between songs. Her funny material included riffs on Seinfeld, the high cost of pastrami, and King Kong climbing The Empire State Building: “Not everyone makes it in New York.” [more]