Brassy, Sassy & Classy: The Songs of Ethel Merman and Mary Martin
Does the title refer to the subject or the artist? It’s impossible to tell, because it applies so perfectly to both. Sounding better than she ever has (which has never been less than superb) and ensconced in an expertly designed format and selection of songs, Joan Curto delivered an evening unbridled joy mixed with passionate expressions from the heart and infectious exuberance as she took her audience at Davenport’s through the songs and careers of two of Broadway’s greatest stars.
With Beckie Menzie providing amazing support at the keyboard (her segment of You’re Just In Love during the overture was mindboggling), Curto gave out just the right amount of background on her subjects and their songs, keeping it brief but interestingly informative. But we weren’t there to learn, we were there to be serenaded, and Curto carried us away from the first upbeat. Tearing things up with The Leader of a Big Time Band and slinking (ultimately) through My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Curto constantly amazed during the set, especially when it came to the ballads — and one that isn’t but became one in her gentle caress. There was the heart-melting tenderness of I Got Lost In His Arms and That’s Him, but it was in the slowed-down hushed romanticism of I’m Flyin’ that Curto transformed the usually jaunty nugget into a juicy morsel of drop-dead gorgeous love song. It was a mesmerizing moment in a captivating hour of perfection.
March 30, 2007