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An Evening of Marvelous Music with Laura Benanti

Surely one of the most enjoyable events in the New York area this season will prove to be the appearance of the fabulous singer and actress, Laura Benanti, at the Caramoor Summer Music Festival in Katonah—on the evening of Saturday, July 6th—with the artist presenting the latest version of her cabaret act, “Tales from Soprano Isle,” accompanied by a trio featuring Anne Klein on guitar, Michael Thurber on bass, and music director Todd Almond on piano.
Looking characteristically lovely in a beautiful, short, orange dress and sporting an adorable bob, Benanti opened hilariously with a fifteen-minute compression of her part as Eliza Doolittle in the extraordinary My Fair Lady by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, the triumphant Broadway run of which she is just completing. She thrillingly performed such magnificent songs as “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” “Just You Wait,” “The Rain in Spain,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “Show Me,” and “Without You,” in quick succession, channeling the spirit of Julie Andrews who originated the role onstage. She then sang a duet with Almond of his pleasurable mashup of two Tin Pan Alley classics: George and Ira Gershwin’s “Love Is Here to Stay” and Irving Berlin’s “Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me,” written for the film, White Christmas, where it was performed by Rosemary Clooney, another of Benanti’s idols.
Benanti segued into music of a more contemporary idiom with a beautiful rendition of the unforgettable Joni Mitchell song, “Conversation,” from her album, Ladies of the Canyon, followed by “Take to the Sky,” by Tori Amos, Mitchell‘s “Carey” (from her seminal album, Blue), and “Mr. Tanner” by Harry Chapin. Another highlight of the show was her version of the wonderful “Vanilla Ice Cream”—a song made famous by the legendary Barbara Cook—from the underrated musical comedy, Jerome Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s She Loves Me—an adaptation of the same play that was the source for the unforgettable Ernst Lubitsch film, The Shop Around the Corner—in which Benanti played on Broadway.
She exited the stage for Almond’s performance of his mashup of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Benanti then sang an uproarious medley of popular hits: Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies,” Sisqo's “Thong Song,” Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe,” Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” (written by Otis Redding), and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.”
She concluded the concert with the incomparable title song from The Sound of Music by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, her first Broadway show. She performed a moving encore—ana cappellarendition of Morgana King’s “It’s a Quiet Thing,” an exquisite finish to a dazzling evening.

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