By Holli Harms

Exhilarating, uplifting, delicious Summertime, an evening with Norm Lewis, his magnificent vocal range truly an instrument of beauty! His comic timing, his down to earth personality, his glorious presence is a must see. It is an evening with some of Broadway’s most iconic songs, sung by one of Broadway’s most iconic performers. Lewis and his marvelous band, led by pianist and music director Joseph Joubert, manifested one of the best evenings at 54 Below, one of the best evenings anywhere.

Mr. Lewis doesn’t just sing the songs, he embodies them. He delivers them with exhilarating depth and love that is unmatched and incomparable.

He started the evening by telling us that he sees this as an evening together in his living room and that is how it played out. Our friend Norm Lewis and his band friends, in this living room called 54 Below, captivated us with their effortless presentation of some of Broadway’s treasures. They opened with “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from Funny Girl, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill. It is a song we should all be singing all the time, “Don’t tell me how to live, live my life!” Following this, the title of the evening carried us along, “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It was Porgy and Bess where I first discovered Norm Lewis. “Summertime” is such a beautiful song and is “the most covered song in the world.” There’s a reason why. The songs, “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin, and “I’ve Gotta Be Me” from Golden Rainbow made famous by the master Sammy Davis Jr. , had me holding my heart. When Norm Lewis sang “Try To Remember” from The Fantasticks, his ode to the incomparable Jerry Orbach, this song, the Norm Lewis’ rendition of it, had me in tears. Looking around the room I was not alone and a good thing there were napkins at all the tables. I cannot tell you how much each song meant to all of us. Leaping to our feet, cheering, hollering, and feeling deeply what the lyrics and music meant to the creators, is a gift of expression that Norm Lewis has and is able to share with audiences.

He is a gracious artist, sharing the space with his band and his guest performer Alice Ripley. Alice and Norm met when they were in the original Broadway production of  The Who’s Tommy back in 1993 and have remained friends. Together they sang “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” from The Fantasticks and it was, fantastic! Norm then left the stage for Alice to sing “I Miss The Mountains” from the Pulitzer prize winning musical, Next To Normal, the musical that got Alice the Tony for best actress in a musical. It is a remarkable song of loss, loss of who she was before she was medicated to stay “Normal.”

What was the showstopper, well one of them, of the evening was Norm Lewis singing “Trouble” from The Music Man. It was a recreation from the film with Norm Lewis as Professor Hill the swindler looking to take the entire townfolks’ money with the promise of creating a marching band. In “Trouble” the townspeople are the chorus. He asked the audience to be the chorus and they sang EXACTLY like it was in the film. EXACTLY! It was amazing! An entire audience “Oh we got trouble!” “Right here in River City!” Right here!!”

This was a superb evening celebrating humanity and all our complexities through some of our most amazing songs from the Broadway song book, allowing us to breathe in through our hearts the music, the words, the performances.

Norm Lewis has created with his band, pianist Joseph Joubert, Perry Cavari on drums, Dylan Shamat on bass, and director and friend Richard Jay-Alexander, an unforgettable evening.

Not To Be Missed. THROUGH JUNE 13th!

54 Below 254 West 54th Street NYC NY 10019

Norm Lewis: Summertime  Tickets