Encores! presents Irving Berlin's "Call Me Madam" - New York City Article
Encores! presents Irving Berlin's "Call Me Madam" Follow @nyccitiview
City Center Encores! presents
Irving Berlin’s “Call Me Madam”
131 W 55th St., CityTix (212) 581-1212
Through February 10
In 1950, Call Me Madam was Irving Berlin and Ethel Merman’s follow-up to Annie Get Your Gun (1946) and almost as successful; if this 1950 show isn’t as well-known or frequently revived as the 1946 one, it’s for two reasons: First, there aren’t nearly as many hits and standards. (The primary songs in Madam that everybody knows are “You’re Just in Love” and “The Best Thing for You.”) Second, there’s a misconception out there that the topical satire of the book, the spoof on Truman-era politics by Berlin and book writers Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, is dated. Wrong! While Berlin is justly celebrated for his jazz and his ballads, it’s all too often forgotten how just plain funny was, a lyric wit to compete with such peers as Lorenz Hart, Ira Gershwin, and his buddy Cole Porter. Virtually all of Berlin’s book shows encompass liberal elements (perhaps the wrong choice of adjectives) of political satire, among them Face the Music (1932), As Thousands Cheer (1933), Louisiana Purchase (1940), This Is the Army (1942), Miss Liberty (1949), Call Me Madam (1950), and Mr. President (1962). This time around (Encores! originally presented Madame in its second season), director Casey Hushion has cast Carmen Cusack as "the hostest with the mostest," Madam Ambassador-ess Sally Adams, a role that reverberates back to Ethel Merman and the character’s original inspiration, Washington party-giver supreme, Perle Mesta. Co-starring Ben Davis, Jason Gotay, Darrell Hammond, Adam Heller, Stanley Wayne Mathis, and there are sure to be great comic turns from Brad Oscar and Carol Kane, the memory of whom in, respectively, The Producers and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, is still cracking me up.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)