by MK Scott
A 25-plus years’ dream was fulfilled last month as I headed down to the Pantages Theater in Tacoma to see the legendary Michael Feinstein’s Celebrating the Crooners’ concert. As I mentioned in my February 9 interview with Feinstein, I became an instant fan of his in the early ’90s and I always wanted to see him in concert.
Feinstein came out on stage to a warm welcome from the audience dressed in grey pants, a light blue designer sports jacket and white button down shirt with a black collar. He was accompanied on stage by a drummer, a bass player and occasionally by a back-up grand pianist, when he wasn’t playing the grand piano himself.
Act One began with Sinatra’s LOVE’, Almost Like Being in Love’, and The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else’, followed by Bing Crosby’s Learn to Croon’, Harry James’ I’ll Get By’ and the song If’, made popular in 1971 by the group, Bread. Next up Feinstein sang the classic I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter’ and Sinatra’s The Second Time Around.’ W.C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues’ and Lerner and Lowe’s I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face’ from My Fair Lady followed.
Feinstein then joked that most of the composers of the songs he sang were Jewish and his next song, Just One of Those Things’, the last song of his first set, was written by Cole Porter who was not Jewish.
At the concert I also discovered that Feinstein is more than just a singer, he is a bona fide entertainer with a great talent for impressions from Liberace to Louis Armstrong. Feinstein, who occasionally segued into a Liberace impression in the first act, joked that his Liberace is more like Michael Douglas (who portrayed the flamboyant pianist in the film, Behind the Candelabra) doing Liberace. In the second act, Feinstein gave us his Louis Armstrong impression singing Hello, Dolly’ Satchmo-style.
Following intermission Feinstein kicked-off his second set with Irving Berlin’s I Love a Piano’ followed by Nat King Cole’s Day In Day Out.’ He then shared a personal story about the time he met Fred Astaire (who he said was his favorite crooner) before singing The Way You Look Tonight.’ Feinstein’s rendition of Louis Armstrong’s Hello Dolly’ followed.
Feinstein then talked about his close association with Ira Gershwin during the last six years of Gershwin’s life and then sang his medley of Gershwin songs which included Rhapsody In Blue’ / I Got Rhythm’ / Summertime’ / Someone To Watch Over Me’ / They Can’t Take That Away From Me.’ (Later backstage, Feinstein confessed he forgot to mention the time in the late ’90s when he collaborated with the Seattle Men’s Chorus at the 5th Avenue Theater for the special concert singing All Gershwin.’)
The finale was a celebration of Frank Sinatra, one of the greatest crooners ever, with Feinstein singing a medley of Sinatra songs: Come Fly with Me’ / Witchcraft’ / A Foggy Day’ / That’s Life’ / Night and Day’ / You Make Me Feel So Young’. Feinstein got a standing ovation following his Sinatra tribute and returned to the stage immediately for an encore song and salute to one of the last of the old-time crooners, Tony Bennett, with For Once in My Life.’
After the show my fiancé and I went backstage and met Michael Feinstein and he was just like the guy on stage with bawdy humor and I felt I wouldn’t have to wait 25 years to see him again. It was an evening to remember.
This review also appeared in the Seattle Gay News