This past June I had the pleasure of seeing Charles Busch's newest show The Ultimate Playlist at Feinstein's/54 Below. It's always a joy when Charles and his musical director Tom Judson return to Feinstein's/54 Below because I know I'm going to have an evening filled with laughter, smiles, and a walk down memory lane, well Charles' memory lane to be exact.
Charles has a way of captivating the audience with his stories. Whenever he tells a story, it feels as though we are seated in his living room around his fire place. He has excellent story telling skills, hence why he's been such a successful playwright. My favorite story Charles told that night was about his Aunt Lillian and how when he was a little boy, she took him in, because she was the only person who truly understood him. Though Charles was a bit rebellious at first, he ended up having a very special and wonderful relationship with his Aunt Lillian. He learned a lot about himself, life, and theatre from her. He had so many fond memories of their time together. It made me think of the great relationship I had with my grandparents, whom have passed, but have left me with a lifetime of loving memories to remember.
I also really enjoyed Charles' re-enactment of "Miriam Passman," the character who inspired him to write his Tony-nominated play The Tale of the Allergists Wife. While I've heard him tell this story in some of his other cabaret shows, it's still enjoyable to hear how he came up with the character and then developed the play around her. But what's even more fun is getting to watch Charles become "Miriam" and do a skit he used to do back in the day. What a treat to get to see a Charles Busch classic skit!
It's always great to hear Charles sing. Until Charles started doing his cabaret shows more regularly, the only time I had ever heard Charles sing was during his annual Christmas Show Times Square Angel. The first time I attended a Charles Busch cabaret show, I remember going into it not fully knowing what to expect, but I ended up leaving with a huge smile on my face from having such a good time. Since that first cabaret show, I have been excited for every one ever since. In this particular show, I enjoyed Charles' varied set list. Charles opened the show with such energy singing "Taking A Chance on Love," a great song about new love. It was the perfect opener because it is such a positive song that it automatically put me in a mood to enjoy the evening set before us.
My favorite song of the night was Those Were The Days. I remember when Dolly Parton released her version of the song back in 2005. It was full of such energy that I was immediately hooked on it. Well, Charles' rendition of this song was just as fun! He got the whole audience singing along with him and he relished in the audience's energy and excitement over the song. He did such a great job with it, I didn't want the song to end!
Charles also did a beautiful mash-up of "The Summer Wind" and "That Sunday, That Summer." Two very sad songs about lost loves, but recalling happier times of each. Charles really brought such heart to these songs. I could feel his relationship to these songs and the sadness one can feel when you lose someone close to you.
Supporting Charles throughout the whole evening was his longtime musical director Tom Judson. I adore Tom! Him and Charles have terrific chemistry together. They play off of each other very well and I love whenever they do a duet together. They sound great!
This show made me so happy and brought back some wonderful memories for me. I can't wait for Charles' next engagement at Feinstein's/54 Below and I encourage everyone to go see him the next time he's in town!
That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!