By Victoria L. Dammer

On August 31, Tony Award-winning actress and singer Cady Huffman and acclaimed Jazz and Broadway bass player Mary Ann McSweeney took the stage to present Just Play at Birdland Theatre and Jazz Club, which is always a perfect venue no matter who’s headlining.

Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Blossom Dearie influenced Huffman, and she won the 2001 Tony Award as “Best Featured Actress in a Musical” for her role as “Ulla” in The Producers on Broadway. She’s known for her extensive acting in such shows as The Nance, The Will Rogers Follies, and La Cage Aux Folles, to name a few. Bob Fosse, who won a Tony for Choreography, featured her in The Big Deal, the last show he directed and choreographed. That is just the short list of accomplishments for Huffman.

McSweeney has been at the forefront of jazz in the past few decades, having played bass with legendary players like Dizzy Gillespie, Gil Goldstein, and Buddy Pizzarelli, to name a few. She has played for famous conductors like Leonard Bernstein and has been in the orchestra in over forty Broadway/Off-Broadway productions.

Huffman and McSweeney are like a Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin duo, bantering back and forth in hilarious laughter, which overflowed to the audience as well. They were spectacular, switching back and forth from vocals with bass, ukulele, and violin.

Huffman’s voice was sultry, sweet, and powerful as she opened with Take Me Back to Manhattan, Cole Porter’s memorable hit song from the 1930s. McSweeney’s talent on bass was stunning, and the combination of the two performers seduced the audience from the start. I Love Being Here with You, written by Peggy Lee, featured Huffman vocals and uke, with McSweeney on bass. Both performed a smoldering version of Lee’s Fever, complete with Huffman’s finger-snapping, bringing an arousing thunder of applause.

The performance was smoking, and it got even hotter when Huffman introduced The Pointer Sisters/Jimi Hendrix version of Fires. “This is where we get a sexy version,” Huffman said. Even more alluring was the duo’s version of Thirteen Men, written by Dickie Thompson and released in 1962 by Ann-Margret on her The Vivacious One album, a funny, seductive twist of lyrics the theatergoers loved.

As Huffman proclaimed, “Here goes nothing,” she did a Bob Fosse-style dance sashay across the stage, much to everyone’s delight. McSweeney performed a solo on base Haden’s Fado, a tribute to world-famous jazz bassist, composer, and bandleader Charlie Haden, which was hauntingly beautiful and deeply heartfelt. Huffman exclaimed, “That’s why she’s here.” McSweeney’s talent is without question.

Huffman announced, “We don’t do encores and we don’t do requests,” then the two wrapped up the evening with Straighten Up and Fly Right, Nat King Cole’s 1943 hit, putting a superb finish on an amazing presentation.

Cady Huffman and Mary Ann McSweeney in Just Play, presented by Birdland Theater. Press by Fortune Creative. Birdland is located at 315 West 44th Street, Manhattan. For reservations call (212) 581-3080 0r visit