by Tulis McCall
Well isn’t this a pickle!! After enjoying my self more than a girl has a right to at Charles Busch’s latest cabaret creation: Charles Busch, Native New Yorker, didn’t I lose my very extensive notes? I had a paper covered with them. G-o-n-e. Time to prime that memory pump.
“Winsome” is the word that comes to mind. I looked it up and the first words are: appealing, engaging, charming, winning, attractive – all of those work. When Charles Busch performs he does not perform the way some do. He lives his life out loud. As a cabaret artist, Charles Busch opens the book that is himself and invites us to peek over his shoulder as he turns the pages. We are only too eager to accept.
Busch’s musical choices are eclectic, not to mention unexpected. But his life’s path has been unusual as well. He was brought to New York under the watchful eye of his Aunt Lil who believed in him unconditionally. She reinforced that inner voice that said his work as an artist was the truest and most important part of life. Busch never took his eye off that prize.
He welcomes the audience with Pieces of Dreams (aka “Little Boy Lost”) and slides into a combo of Rainbow High (Weber/Rice from Evita) and I’m The Greatest Star (Styne/Merrill from Funny Girl) which is a positively brilliant combination that needs no comment. Comment Busch does, however, and he tosses chapters of his life out like candy at Mardi Gras. He is delighted with his stories and amazed at his adventures. His observations are unique and universal all in one breath. His heart is generous and his capacity to embrace while he reveals is enormous.
I Wake Up Slow (Dorry Previn) is instantly something to which we want to aspire. Or think we may have. Touch Me In The Morning (Masser/Miller) takes this song out of the hands of Diana Ross forever and shatters that protective coating we all have around out hearts. Busch lowers the boom with Pretty Women (Sondheim) and brings down the house with I Got A Name (Croce). On his watch (and with the extraordinary musical direction of Tom Judson) the familiar take on new colors and the unknown songs blossom.
If I were to quibble, and why not, my only suggestion would be to move the title song into the finale spot. The evening is working up to that moment – and Busch can afford to make us wait. After all, we are all Native New Yorkers – that is why we moved here from everywhere.
You have one more chance to see Busch – February 27. Treat yourself. It is a fabulous show in an elegant room staffed by a bunch of cracker-jack folks from coat-check to waiters. Reward yourself for being a Native New Yorker. TICKETS here