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San Francisco by Richard Connema

Meg Mackay, Billy Philadelphia perform Cole Porter's songs and it is "De-Lovely"

Also see Richard's review of Immortal Heart

Meg MacKay and Billy PhiladelphiaThe New Conservatory Theatre Center is presenting Meg Mackay and Billy Philadelphia in their new cabaret show So in Love, which features the music and lyrics of Cole Porter. The review runs through August 1 at the NCTC, 25 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco.

The San Francisco Chronicle calls them "the royal couple of San Francisco Musical." "The incomparable couple has a balance focused act that never loses its way," says the Chronicle. I most certainly agree with both of these statements, since these two fine artists never fail to give the audience a highly professional performance. They are an awesome cabaret team.

Meg MacKay has been wowing audiences both here in the Bay Area and nationwide for many years. She is a supreme cabaret artist who not only has a special velvety voice but also great acting ability to put a song over. She has won seven Bay Area Theatre Critics Awards, several Dean Goodman awards and a Drama-Logue prize. Her talents have landed her lead roles in Gypsy, Call Me Madam and Dear World. Her acting abilities were shown in a wonderful production of Subject was Roses several years ago.

Billy Philadelphia, Meg's husband and accompanist, is one of the best pianists around, and he has a unique voice that borders on a Hoagy Carmichael style. His voice is somewhat raspy but very entertaining. His take on comic songs is top grade. This man tickles the keyboards like no other pianist in the bay area. He will soon be playing the famed Coconut Grove in Florida in his one man show Hoagy in November.

So In Love features 22 wonderful songs by the great master himself, Cole Porter. The couple have a diverse repertoire of Porter's words and music, ranging from the soft romantic well-known songs like "In the Still of the Night" and "Night and Day" sung so beautifully by Meg, to comic songs like "I Hate Men," "The Physician" and "Most Gentlemen Don't Like Love" with great gusto. Billy comes across as a great entertainer in the sublime "Tale of the Oyster" (originally Porter's title was "Tale of the Scampi" when he lived in Venice), Let's Fall in Love" and "Brush Up Your Shakespeare."

Billy's arrangement of "I've Got You under My Skin" is outstanding, with a flowery piano opening with Billy playing counterpoint to Meg singing the main melody. It is lovely. Meg sings a very seldom heard Porter song called "Leader of a Big Time Band" that really catches the big swing band era of '40s and '50s. Meg also sings "Just One of Those Things" in a slow tempo that you very seldom hear from a singer.

As Billy Philadelphia said at the opening, "this is a cabaret act with no two drink minimum." Ninety minutes of smooth melodic moments keep the audience interested - it is gorgeous to hear.

So In Love will play through August 1 at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness off Market, San Francisco. For tickets call NCTC box office at 415-861-8972 or on line at www.nctcsf.org.

The next show in the In Concert series will be An Evening with Spencer Day, opening on August 14 through August 29th. NCTC first Pride Season 10 opens with the world premiere of Breakfast with Scot on August 6th. Albert Evans and Bill Russell's wonderful Pageant opens on September 18th.


Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area


- Richard Connema



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