On our recent trip to New York we had wonderful meals (Il Tinello on 54th), stayed at the Peninsula, saw The King’s Speech (superb), and spent time with the family and our super-bright, adorable grandchildren (a lot of me in them, easy to see). A typical long New York weekend.
We also stopped in at the Café Carlyle, where we’ve seen great talent, to catch the penultimate show by Paulo Szot, the wonderful singer who played the planter in the hugely successful revival of South Pacific. He won a Tony for the role.
We usually sit at the stage, a few feet from the performer, but Mr. Szot is a tall man with a big baritone, so we chose to sit in a corner banquet. (The maître d’ is always accommodating, and quite gracious in responding to good cheer.)
After dinner, at show time, the lights dim and Mr. Szot enters from the rear of the cozy room (90 people virtually on top of each other, the waiters do a ballet to get food and drink to the tables) singing as he proceeds, “Some Enchanted Evening,” which mesmerized the place. He is a large, impressive presence, with a great voice and wondrous range.
Launching into his second selection, my wife leaned over and said, “I’m in love,” clearly not indicating I was involved. I leaned back and said, “I just discovered I’m gay.” (Please don’t write letters, try to lighten up.) We were both charmed.
As the show draws to a close he wisely saves “This Nearly Was Mine” for the last piece (before his single encore with “If Ever I Should Leave You). One of the most magnificent songs in the Great American Songbook (Rodgers and Hammerstein), it brought the musical to a lengthy standstill during an ovation with Mr. Szot alone on stage. He sang it equally magnificently in this small room, and it was one of the greatest live performances I’ve ever experienced in my life.
This is what New York is about. (People in Rhode Island say, “We’re going to the city, meaning Providence. I have to teach them that The City means New York.) The room was packed with sophisticated people and tough critics, and we were blown away by an awesome talent.
That’s not a bad way to spend four days, requiring only two, three-hour train trips. Batteries recharged. Who cares about snow! Life is grand!
© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.