By Tulis McCall
The bad news is that the Carlyle Hotel kitchen is closed for the next few weeks/months. The good news is that #1) they are definitely serving liquor and #2) this will dramatically decrease your bill should you wish to see any of the fine performers on this fall’s lineup.
The opening act this season is the well known and fabulous Jane Lynch who has paired up with an indefatigable Kate Flannery (you may know her from The Office). They are backed up by a spectacular quartet: Tony Guerrero Piano, Musical Director, Mark Visher – Saxophone And Flute, Rich Zurkowski – Bass and Sean McDaniel – Drums.
Jane Lynch is exactly what she seems – easy going (she introduced herself to the bartender before going onstage), smart and bursting with talent. Ms. Flannery was new to me, but it is easy to see why these two get along. The are two wild gals out for a terrific time.
Sad to say that their set did not live up to its potential. These two seem so intent on having a good time and sharing it with the audience that the shape and content got a bit lost. The opening number, Far From The Home I Love (a beautiful Jerry Block ballad from Fiddler On The Roof) is turned into churning number that is only missing a klezmer. A brief explanation of their partnership follows – they overheard each other – Lynch talking about the Andrews Sisters and Flannery talking about the Barry Sisters. They realized they were on the same crazy wavelength and joined forces.
Bei Mir Bist Du Shon – Is featured as the most romantic song featuring Yiddish. Here they get into some fine tight harmonies – and when these two harmonize they are spot on. Their dips into acapella are quite marvelous. One Note Samba (Antonio Carlos Jobim) starts off well and then is merged with what I think was Spanish Flea (Herb Alpert) – unexplainable. A sort of 1950’s swinging version of Good King Wenceslas follows and seems completely out of place. Two “inside” songs from The Folksmen (Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer) are funny but obscure.
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (Verna Felton) was not allowed to stand on its adorable two feet but had added lyrics only found on an old Perry Como show. Once again it was a swingin’ 50’s sound.
Finally the show rolls into a sweet moment with Nobody’s Heart Belongs To Me (Richard Rodgers).
The Love Song Medley is brilliant and a taste of what these two are about. Lynch says, “Here some of the crap I grew up listening to.” It All Depends On You, For The Love of Him, Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon, Can’t Live, Seventeen, I won’t Last a Day Without You. Immediately following is the antidoteI’ll Plant My Own Tree (from Valley of the Dolls – the musical).
A simple rendition of Two Lost Souls (Richard Adler and Jerry Ross) brings this act close to the finish line with a touch of class. Followed by the nearly equally classy The Party’s Over (Julie Styne).
A rousing rendition of The Hallelujah Chorus left me puzzled.
Just before the final final there is a salute to songs that always make us cry and, as if to underscore the generosity of these two women, they sing the favorite cry songs that each of the band members chose, including Darwin who is the Carlyle’s resident sound guru. Puff The Magic Dragon, Ben, Seasons in The Sun, He Ain’t Heavy – He’s My Brother, Shannon, Honey, Roll Out The Barrel and back to Puff (pointing out the sexual references – you do the math).
And what show would be complete without a bow to Nicki Minaj and Anaconda. Indeed.
As I said, I wanted to like this show, and I am disappointed that i didn’t. I also know that I was definitely in the minority, because most people loved these two women. The hooting and hollering was a big part of the evening. As for me, I think Lynch and Flannery are strong sexy women who are still looking for what is is that they want to say in this show. Perhaps a thoughtful director to help guide them through what must be a banquet of material they have at their disposal? At the moment the act feels put together by the, “Hey that would be fun” philosophy, without a lot of thought given to how each number connects to the next. Personally, I would love a few more serious pieces that revealed their enormous hearts, and a bunch more harmonizing. These two are jewels who, in this case, could use a delicate polish.
Jane Lynch and Kate Flannery – Two Lost Souls – Café Carlyle — Through September 22
Saturday at 8:45pm. Weekday pricing begins at $125 per person / Bar Seating: $75 / Premium Seating: $175. Weekend pricing begins at $150 per person / Bar Seating: $100 / Premium Seating: $200. Reservations can be made by phone at 212.744.1600 or online via Ticketweb. Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue). Follow Café Carlyle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Visit Café Carlyle’s new official web site for more information.