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Christine Ebersole Sings the Classics of Stage & Screen at Lincoln Center

Christine Ebersole, photo by Da Ping Luo for Lincoln Center.

On the evening of Wednesday, February 20th, the magnificent Christine Ebersole gave a fabulous concert at Alice Tully Hall—as part of the wonderful American Songbook series of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts—accompanied by an excellent jazz quintet featuring music director Lawrence Yurman at the piano, Aaron Heick on reeds, Paul Woodiel on violin and viola, Davic Finck on bass, and Jared Schonig on drums. Still gorgeous in her 60s, Ebersole wore a sequined dress, commenting hilariously about herself: “a drag queen unleashed in a Jersey housewife’s body.”

She opened with a leisurely rendition of “Lullaby of Broadway” by Harry Warren and Al Dubin from Busby Berkeley’s film, Gold Diggers of 1935, followed by Louis Jordan’s “Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens.” She then sang Jerome Kern’s beautiful “I’m Old Fashioned” from the film You Were Never Lovelier directed by the underrated William A. Seiter, with Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. She then segued from Kern and Johnny Mercer’s “Yesterdays” and “Lazy Afternoon” from The Golden Apple.
Next was another Warren and Dubin song, “42nd Street,” from the 1933 movie of the same title—Ebersole had appeared in the revival of the Broadway musical adaptation. A highlight of the evening was “I Cain't Say No” from Oklahoma! by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s, another show she appeared in on Broadway. Also lovely was “The Simple Joys of Maidenhood” from Camelot by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe followed by the exquisite ”Where the River Shannon Flows” and “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” from Burton Lane’s musical, Finian’s Rainbow.
She then sang “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe”—which was featured in the film The Harvey Girls — again with music by Warren and lyrics by Mercer. She movingly performed Kern and Hammerstein’s “Bill” from Show Boat followed by George and Ira Gershwin’s “'S Wonderful” from Funny Face. A different type of music was heard with Joni Mitchell’s “Little Green”—from her celebrated album, Blue — from which she segued into the superb “Inchworm” by Frank Loesser from the Danny Kaye vehicle, Hans Christian Andersen.
Ebersole then invited Broadway composer Scott Frankel to the piano to accompany her in two songs from Grey Gardens in which she had played socialite Little Edie Beale — beginning with the touching “Will You?” and followed by “Around the World”—and “Pink” from War Paint, in which she had portrayed cosmetics magnate Elizabeth Arden. She closed the program with “Too Marvelous for Words” by Mercer and Richard Whiting, followed by “How Can I Keep from Singing?”—a Christian hymn from her childhood—and, finally, “I Happen to Like New York,” from Cole Porter’s The New Yorkers. Ebersole performed two enjoyable encores: “I Do What I Can with What I Got,” from the musical Paper Moon and “My Shining Hour” from the Fred Astaire film, The Sky’s the Limit, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Mercer.
This will surely prove to be one of the most memorable concerts of the year and I hope we have the chance to encounter Ebersole’s enormous talents in New York again soon.

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