For the many, many senior citizens who live in the Rockaways, there are probably no more popular contemporary singers than the perennial duo of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. Last week, Long Island welcomed them home during their sensational opening night at Westbury Music Fair. Amazingly, the twosome has never looked or sounded better. The mature crowd, which filled the intimate theater-in-the round, was buzzing with excitement before the first notes from the superb 26-piece orchestra in the pit. That excitement would continue for the intermission-free two hours of musical excellence that followed.
There was a warm, violet glow on the empty stage, and during an overture that seemed to include every popular melody from the 40’s and 50’s, I found myself remembering past trips to Westbury to see such stars as Perry Como, the Mills Brothers, Harry James and Helen O’Connell. But none of those stars were at the peak of their powers when I saw them. On this night, however, Steve and Eydie had the perfection of two polished gems. (And speaking of gems, Eydie’s diamond and amethyst necklace was a knockout!)
The two walked through the audience to the stage for the opening number, a smoothly polished “Our Love is Hear to Stay.” Ms. Gorme was dressed in a stunning, beaded navy pantsuit with glamorous beaded white lapels. Like the orchestra that accompanied him, Mr. Lawrence was in elegant black-tie. He teased his wife suggesting that her outfit was “…a loaner from Dennis Rodman,” and joked with the audience saying, “It’s terrific when you live with your favorite singer!” The couple boasts one of the longest marriages in the entertainment industry.
An opening medley included such favorites as “Together,” and “This Could Be the Start of Something Big.” Gorme’s solo of “The Man I Love” was stunning. Lawrence followed with “A Room Without Windows,” and “I’ve Got to Be Me,” in perfect voice. Gorme now reenters in gorgeous peach chiffon trimmed with feather boa and rhinestones. They perform a counterpoint masterpiece with “Baby It’s Cold Outside. As they sing “No Two People Have Ever Been So in Love,” I find myself looking for a bad note, but there is none to be found. Gorme’s solos of “As Long As He Needs Me,” and “What Did I Have I Don’t Have Now?” sparkle like her jewels. Then, suddenly, she is an actress as she beautifully performs the theatrical song, “Guess Who I Saw Today.” With “If He Walked Into My Life Today,” she gives the best rendition I’ve heard since Angela Lansbury did it in Broadway’s “Mame” some 30 years ago.
The pair continued with more great tunes than could ever be recorded here, but the extensive tribute to Frank Sinatra was a particular highpoint of the evening. It included many of his biggest hits, and I even learned that Sinatra himself wrote “This Love of Mine.” Throughout the show there were lots of jokes and good-humored banter from the talented couple. I hope the two never lose the marvelous singing voices that guided them through the show’s touching close, “Our Love Is Here To Stay.” But if they ever do, they could probably go on the road as stand-up comedians.