Michael Feinstein Plays Walt Disney Concert HallEvents, Walt Disney Hall — By Gina Hall on February 10, 2011 at 12:33 am
By Gina Hall
Nostalgia took the stage when multi-platinum-selling, five-time Grammy-nominated performer Michael Feinstein played Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday evening. Sticking primarily to Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and film classics, Feinstein and his 6-piece band played to a full house of the over-fifty set who appreciated his musical history lessons and interpretations of classic American standards.
Opening song “You���re Gonna Hear from Me,” with lyrics by Dory Previn and music by Andre Previn, became an appropriate lead off when Feinstein paused one line in to chastise a front-row patron for playing on his Blackberry. Starting over with the repetition of the initial line “Everyone tells me to know my place, but that ain‘t the way I play,“ the song was infused with an entirely different innuendo which could easily make it the anthem for frustrated performers who have to compete with electronic gadgets for attention. The show proceeded with highlights from the Great White Way such as Cole Porter���s “So in Love” from Kiss Me Kate, My Fair Lady’s “I’ve Grown Accustomed to her Face” and Bye Bye Birdie’s “Put on a Happy Face” and “Got a Lot of Livin’ to Do.” Feinstein also threw some love out to the West Coast Dream Factory by including such Hollywood classics as “Hooray for Hollywood,” “How About You,” from the Mickey Rooney/Jody Garland musical Babes on Broadway and “The Music Never Ends,” from Best Friends, starring Goldie Hawn and Burt Reynolds.
Feinstein’s smooth voice was more than capable of filling the theater and elevated the love song staples from wedding background music to passionate performance art that makes one reconsider and appreciate the musical craft and talent that went into creating them. A music trivia buff in his own right, Feinstein added humorous and poignant anecdotes, both personal and historical, to allow the listener to hear each song in a new, and sometimes surprising, context. One of these anecdotes, prior to the Bye Bye Birdie set, brought out a spot-on Paul Lynde impression, much to the surprise and delight of the audience.
Feinstein’s dedication to the great American songbook and its legacy is admirable and reaches beyond the concert hall. Although the torch for this musical style has recently been passed to Michael Buble, Feinstein continues to tour and serve on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, which is dedicated to preserving America’s sound recording heritage and ensuring that the music is available to the public at large and ensuring that these gems remain in the American collective consciousness for a long time to come.