Sammy Cahn in Person: Words & Music | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sammy Cahn in Person: Words & Music 

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Though there is plenty of terrific music in this performance piece--vintage tunes famously associated with such performers as Frank Sinatra, Mario Lanza, Harry James, and the Andrews Sisters--it's the words that really matter. Not just the lyrics Cahn wrote for such songs as "Three Coins in the Fountain", "It's Magic," "All the Way," and "Call Me Irresponsible," but the stories that the 77-year-old songwriter and schmoozer tells about his career, his craft, and the people he's worked with. Cahn assumes the pose of a sort of New York Huck Finn in Hollywood as he offers sly anecdotes about such temperamental talents as Jule Styne, Harry Cohn, Doris Day, Michael Curtiz, and himself. This delightfully idiosyncratic and invaluable evening of oral history should interest fans and students of Hollywood and Broadway history from the 1930s, '40s, and '50s; Cahn's vocally shaky but beautifully phrased renditions of his work are prime examples of how to bring lyrics to life through conversational singing. (Alisa Gyse Dickens, a knockout song stylist in the Lena Horne tradition of sleek looks and sizzling sounds, is among the trio of young performers who back Cahn up.) Cahn is one of the last of a grand breed, and this show shouldn't be missed. Wellington Theater, November 7 through December 2. (Preview November 6; Tuesday, 8 PM. $15.) Tuesdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM; Wednesday, November 28, 2 PM only. November 28 performance, $22.50; other performances, $24.50-$29.50.

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