Monday, January 19, 2009

Drawn to Mary Fishburne

I promised you all an update on the concert given by my friend--a fantastic singer/actress--Mary Fishburne. The show was called Drawn to You, a clever title for a cabaret act of songs created for a slew of legendary characters... cartoon characters. Mary opened the show with a silver-voiced interpretation of "What Can I Do for You?", a song by Edward Heyman and Sammy Timberg that was introduced to the world by the croaking voice of Popeye the Sailor Man. (Fishburne proceeded to muse that, although it is taboo to sing a song that was introduced by such a legend, she felt she brought a new quality to the song--singing.)

This proved to be a fantastic and charming opening for a fantastic and charming show. First of all, Ms. Fishburne is a delight. She brings an air of Southern charm combined with New York know-how, a stunning mix, to this performance. This is most apparent in her performance of the Alan Menken song "Pink Fish," a song about a Southern girl in New York discovering bagels and lox.

The other thing she and writer/director Jeffrey Sweet brought to the evening was a sense of sincerity. This was not a gimmick show. While they gave us the requisite jokes comparing Ms. Fishburne to the likes of Minnie Mouse and Olive Oil, she also brought a grounding--dare I say it?--third dimension to the material.

With material ranging from silver-screen Disney to classic television and back, the show, accompanied by the amazing Rick Hip-Flores, married whimsy to true human (or in some cases, animal) emotions for a beautiful show. Kudos to producer Jeff Landsman (of the York Theatre's Developmental Reading Series) for finding these artists and bringing them together.

In attendance the night that I saw the show was the daughter of legendary cartoon composer Sammy Timberg (of the Popeye opening number), who was there to see her father's material celebrated. We chatted beforehand and she asked me if I was Mary's boyfriend. I thought to myself after seeing the show, I should just lied and said "Yes!"

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