Review: Michael Feinstein and Barbara Cook

This is a great match: the vocal styles of Barbara Cook and Michael Feinstein pair perfectly. They both have smooth, warm voices with a creamy, even vibrato, and both veer towards the lightly romantic in the way they interpret lyrics. And this sort of double act is nothing new: over the last few years Feinstein has had great success doing duet shows with Broadway stars, and here, as usual, it’s a winning situation all around.

While the show has a vague underlying theme – something to do with singers and songwriters that have inspired the two – mostly this show simply testifies to their ability, separately and together, to dig into a song and tell its story with detail and feeling. Cook finds some rich shadings in Irving Berlin’s “I Got Lost in His Arms” that most other singers miss. She also fully plays both the ruefulness and the celebration in “Here’s to Life”, where most singers would pick only one angle and stick with it.

Feinstein’s been truly blossoming as a singer in recent years. In the evening’s most moving moment, he delivers a passionate rendition of “Fifty Percent” that the lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman have altered slightly to change the character in the song from a newly widowed woman to a gay man. His heartfelt, textured reading of this clear-eyed yet ardent song goes from a gorgeously restrained, romantic beginning to rattling the rafters with an open-throated declaration of love at all costs. What can I say, it made me kvell. Go, Michael go!

This may not be particularly holiday themed, as Feinstein’s shows around this time of year have sometimes been. But this is, nonetheless, about as luscious as cabaret gets. Highly recommended.

For tickets, click here.

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