Sound the trumpets! Strike the cymbals! Shake the camphor out of your glad rags! Celebrate the return of sly, lascivious wit to our fair city -- to wit, 90 minutes of nifty, clever, devious ditties delivered in great style by Cabaret's Crème de la Crème: Eric Michael Gillett, Sidney Myer, Carolyn Montgomery-Forant and Jay Myers, in show called simply Dirty Little Songs.
I caught their surprisingly sold-out debut on a late Sunday night in mid-February when most culture-vultures were glued to the boob tube hoping for hints about which rich, noble, handsome, mannerly, besotted and bespoke-suited suitor of Downton Abbey's newly-widowed Lady Mary would be unfortunate enough to be the next to slide his buns across her monogrammed sheets. Why unfortunate? Because sex with Lady Mary is a kiss of death! Remember the late Mr. Pamuk, Mary's Turkish diplomatic despoiler, being lugged down the halls by Mary, Her Ladyship, their maid and the Grim Reaper, hopefully post-orgasm! Or hubby, Matthew, who after one year of upper-class bliss and one male heir, met his maker on a Yorkshire motorway when a traditional oxcart flung him out of his fashionable roadster onto a baseborn rock.
But I digress.
Dirty Little Singers Eric Michael Gillett, Sidney Myer, Carolyn Montgomery-Forant and Jay Rogers are among the most adaptable, versatile and talented performers you may never have heard of, unless you spend evenings where tourists are not evident but exceptional offbeat entertainment is found. Dirty Little Songs grew out of the desire by Eric Michael, Carolyn and Musical Director Jeff Cubeta to work together on a show that contained smutty songs, and believe me, they considered the entire gamut from @#$%, and @#$%^ to #@ %^&* and #$%^! "However, once Jay and Sidney joined the mix," Eric Michael reports, "mutual sensibilities made us prefer what's alluded to rather than what's actually said, so the show was shaped by all five of us equally in a slightly different direction."
Eric Michael Gillett, the award-winning co-instigator of this delightful madness, has the most creative imagination in town. His past includes 10 years as singing ringmaster for Barnum and Bailey, and feature roles in Broadway, off-Broadway and touring musicals. A major mentor for wannabes as the go-to guru at HB Studio and Singers Forum, he also conceives and directs one woman shows for stars like Karen Akers, KT Sullivan and Tovah Feldshuh. I hope his astrologer prepared him for the great month he's been having. First, Dirty Little Lies; then The WOW! Amanda McBroom Project; next, recording a wry look at the intricate stumblings of the heart toward true romance on a new CD; finally, the bookend return of Dirty Little Songs, where Eric Michael represents the Brits, cloning Cole, Noel and Flanders and Swan. His showstopper, however is a pure American-Jewish showtune, Stan Daniels' The Butler Song, in which a Hollywood valet explains to Greta Garbo why his mogul can't speak on the phone to her. "He's screwing Delores Del Rio, and can't talk to you till he's through."
Sidney Myer is the Sidney always referred to in the phrase, "I LOVE Sidney!" He looked particularly dapper and adorable -- tall and slim in slick black slacks and a sumptuous red silk shirt. An arch, unique, actor/singer with incomparably droll delivery, androgynous deportment and a way of making any song he sings, heard in a fresh new way, Sidney may be the only person in Manhattan who's never lusted after STARDOM! He just wanted to be invited under the entertainment umbrella and boy, has he been! At most of his guest artist appearances, Sidney sings only two numbers, and ends up owning the room! Dirty Little Songs marks Sidney's coming out of the performance closet with three solo, gusto-packed numbers (originally written for dirty little children?) including "Bang, Bang," about a kid who dreams of becoming a G-Man and "I'm in Training for You" and joining the ensemble on five others including Sondheim's "I Never Do Anything Twice." Sidney's day job is booking Don't Tell Mama, the godmother of all Manhattan Caberets and the first stepping stone for anyone who became ANYONE in musical theater and the first misstep for anyone who stayed anyone also.
Carolyn Montgomery-Forant Carolyn is a comedian, singer, songwriter, parent, chef/restaurateur and newlywed. She and her longtime beloved, Lea Forant, the chef of the late, lamented, luscious Café Forant, made honest women of each other in October, before they were fined into closing by health inspectors for life-threatening infractions like leaving a storage cabinet door unlocked, leaving the inspectors to focus on infractions on the now B-rated by them Per Se, a top 10 restaurant on every international list. Carolyn actually wrote two of the songs she sang: The Lebanese Lament and Booked. She has a strong expressive voice and great dramatic presence. When she sings you can't take your ears off of her. She totally killed on a reasonably straight version of Porter's Love for Sale, and also talked about how that song was banned from the airwaves until Danny Kaye changed one word and sang the cleaner version on his radio show.
Jay Rogers, a native of Hattiesburg, is a sly Southern writing/performing imp, who looks like a community college professor. A Drama Desk nominee for his performance in Whoop-Dee-Doo, he's also worked off-Broadway and has won MAC and Bistro awards for his one-man musical comedy solo shows. Jay and his partner-in-rhyme Keith Thompson supplied several specialty numbers for Jay including "Dresser Drawer Blues" and the tauntingly naughty "Como Te Gusta Mi Pingo," whose meaning Jay totally translated via with body language and the devilish expression in his eyes.
If you lust after New York the way you think it was during the time when Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and Alexander Wolcott made priceless remarks while getting drunk at the Algonquin Round Table don't miss Dirty Little Songs on Sunday night March 30th, 9:30 PM, 54 Below at 254 W. 54th St.