Review by Tulis McCall

I have a gift for you.  Actually it’s two – Two Gifts In One: Austin Pendleton and Barbara Bleier who have 2 more performances of their current show, Starting Here,: the songs of Richard Maltby and David Shire, at Pangea on June 21 and 27 at 7PM.

These are two old friends singing the wonderful and often not well-known music of – you guessed it – two old friends: Richard Maltby and David Shire who Pendleton met at Yale.  From Spring Cleaning (Maltby and Shire’s first musical, Grand Tour in 1959) to songs from Big (1996).

The music is often winsome – like Saturday Morning from The Sap Of Life in which a young man greets the with hope and notices that he is radiating magic from his very center.  Whatever he touches on this Saturday will be the better for it and so will he.  His is the world of Midas love.  Until he meets the wise woman who says Good Morning and Goodbye with an eye on the possibilities of life.

One of my favorites,There, is the story of a relationship turning in on itself as both partners realize what that tiny little word really means.  This number dovetails into a melancholy reflection What If We Had Loved Like That.  Which leaves the door open for the hilarious I Don’t Remember Christmas.

The night is all about relationships, and these two have lived long enough to have their share of memories, regrets and treasures.  They sing of loss (with a lovely guest appearance by Barbara Maier Gustern singing Autumn).

How do you to the Crossword with one when you know it is meant for two?

As well as picking from the over 400 songs that Maltby and Shire wrote they branch our to other collaborators. Bleier has a lovely turn with It Goes Like It Goes (written by Shire and Norman Gimbel; academy Award Winner for Norma Rae).  She follow this up with an extraordinary turn singing One Of The Good Guys which is normally sung by a man, but fits like a glove here.

Pendleton shows a rarely seen lascivious side with a true at Overripe Fruit.  Followed by three songs from Big that are range from the obviously poignant Stop Time, to the exuberant charts of the expectant older father Fatherhood Blues (reminiscent of that Saturday morning guy), to the generational saga of past and future in The Story Goes On.

And the finale Love of Your Life – a sort of countrified testament to new love and passion.

These are two story tellers with both feet in the present of the present who somehow can pull the past and the future into the exact spot where they are standing and the exact moment we are all sharing.  The now is filled with maddening memories from the past and burning desires for the future, and respect for every day that we are given.

It is an intimate and transporting evening.  Bravissimo all around.  Bleier and Pendleton and Maltby and Shire – and us.

Paul Greenwood is the Musical Director, and Barbara Maier Gustern directs. Tickets are $20 in advance online and $25 at the door. For online ticketing, visit http://pangeanyc. com, or call 212.995.0900 for information.