Perky Debby Boone in a Smooth Performance salutes Rosemary Clooney
Lively Debby Boone gave a smooth and laid back performance in a musical tribute to her late mother-in-law Rosemary Clooney in Reflections of Rosemary at the Empire Plush Room in the York Hotel. Opening with Clooney's a cappella version of "Blue Skies" that she recorded for one of the Boone's four children, Debby appeared suddenly in a light beige '50s cocktail dress to sing her own unique style the Irving Berlin song. It was a great beginning for the ninety minute presentation during which she reminiscenced about her famous mother-in-law.
Debby sang songs associated with or sung by the fabulous Rosemary Clooney. Most of the songs were laid back and as cool as a summer night in San Francisco, with only a few upbeat selections, such as "Blue Skies." Boone's charming satin voice was lively and full of optimism in Andre and Dory Previn's "You're Gonna Hear From Me" and Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh's "The Best is Yet to Come." She has a little of a country twang in Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." and sings a great melody of Jimmy Van Heusen songs, embracing the words of Johnny Burke on "But Beautiful", "Moonlight Becomes You" and "Like Someone in Love."
Debby sings a song from one of my favorite musicals of all time, Marc Blitzstein's Juno: the soul-searching "I Wish It So." It is exquisite. There is also a tribute to Johnny Mercer, Rosemary's favorite songwriter, which includes "P.S. I Love You", "I Thought About You", "Hit the Road to Dreamland", "I Remember You" and "Come Rain or Come Shine," beautifully arrange by Ms. Clooney's favorite arranger and Debby's pianist, John Oddo.
Ms. Boone did an stylishly moving rendition of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill's "The Music That Makes Me Dance," and appealing covers of Rodgers and Hart's "It Never Entered My Mind" and Hillard and Mann's "Wee Small Hours of the Morning" were appealing. She brought the audience out of its cool mood with a rousing final rendition of Cole Porter's "From This Moment On." Her encore song was the sublime "It Might as Well be Spring" from State Fair by Rodgers and Hammerstein.
During the breaks, Debby Boone talked about her mother-in-law with great affection. She also mentioned appearing in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers which played here in San Francisco plus several regional productions, including performing Guinevere in a North Carolina production of Camelot. Ms. Boone was completely at ease with her trio, which consisted of John Oddo on piano, the great tenor sax player Mary Fetting, and Peter Barshay on bass. The whole evening reminded me of shows in those quiet little clubs that had soft and pleasurable music in New York during the "60s and '70s.
Debby Boone's show closed on October 29th. Bruce Vilanch comes into the club November 8 through November 19 followed by Mary Wilson November 29 through December 11 and Lorna Luft on December 27 through January 8th. The Empire Plush Room is located in the Hotel York, 940 Sutter St, San Francisco. For reservations please call 415-885-2800 or visit www.EmpirePlushRoom.com.