She Loves Him: Kate Baldwin Sings Sheldon Harnick, With Harnick in the House

PlayBlog   She Loves Him: Kate Baldwin Sings Sheldon Harnick, With Harnick in the House
One of the great voices of the American musical theatre is meeting one of the great voices of the American musical theatre at Feinstein's at the Loews Regency through March 12. Kate Baldwin, the Tony Award nominee for 2009-10's Finian's Rainbow, is singing the songs of Fiddler on the Roof and She Loves Me lyricist Sheldon Harnick in a show called She Loves Him. Special guest of the night is 86-year-old Harnick himself, who wrote the words to "Sunrise, Sunset," "If I Were a Rich Man" and "To Life!," all of which he sings here with Baldwin ("Rich Man" is a moving solo). He and the seven-months-pregnant singer-actress duet on "Dear Sweet Sewing Machine," a song that was cut from Fiddler on the Roof, and which includes Harnick's knack for specificity — there are evocative references to "satins," "silk," "milk," "corn," "sugar," "salt" and more. A world of want and need is conjured, simply and beautifully. As always, God is in the details of most of Harnick's humanity-rich lyrics.

Baldwin's program includes Harnick's early-career revue songs "The Boston Beguine" and "The Ballad of the Shape of Things" (with words and music by Harnick), plus the pop song "You're Going Far," with music by Cy Coleman (from the film "The Heartbreak Kid") and songs with late, great Broadway composer Jerry Bock. "Gorgeous," from The Apple Tree, pushes soprano Baldwin to a D-flat, a note that Barbara Harris didn't even attempt in the Broadway original; back in the '60s, the D was sung from someone in the wings, to comic effect. It's on the cast album.)

Perhaps most moving moments come in the Baldwin-Harnick duet of Bock & Harnick's "In My Own Lifetime," a song from The Rothschilds known to theatre fans but not to the world at large. It should, by all rights, be an international hit for its melodic, plaintive, universal call for peace and justice.

On Wednesday night, "When Did I Fall in Love?" (from Fiorello!) had a special kick to it. Baldwin had a slight hiccup (for lack of a better word) when her baby moved. He didn't want her to breathe, she told the crowd, to the biggest laugh of the evening. Clearly, he will be a vocal coach in 25 years.

Also heard are She Loves Me's "Will He Like Me?," "A Trip to the Library" and the title song (Baldwin was Amalia in a Huntington/Williamstown co-production), plus a Fiddler medley with Baldwin singing "Sabbath Prayer," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" and a crystalline "Far From the Home I Love."

She Loves Him — with music director Scott Cady at piano, Andrew Sterman on woodwinds, John Beale on bass — is expected to be preserved as a recording, with release details to be announced in the future, Baldwin told For now, She Loves Him (which began Tuesday) has remaining performances 8 & 10:30 Friday and Saturday March 11-12.

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