|h u m a n
c h i l d
r e c o r d s
144 w. 72
new york, ny 10023
Marriage made in musical heaven
January 5, 2011
Marital difficulties? Try watching Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano in action. These husband-and-wife performers have so much personal and musical chemistry, they're practically providing couples counseling by example.
Their new show, "Helluva Town: A New York Soundtrack," is designed as a valentine to the Big Apple -- but the real love is between the performers themselves. When Comstock kisses his wife's bare shoulder during a tender moment, it seems like a natural punctuation of the song they're singing.
The couple jokes that they grew up in the "outer, outer boroughs" -- she on Long Island, he in New Jersey. But their love of the city and its musical legacy shines through in this varied 90-minute program, featuring songs by Rodgers and Hart, Harry Warren and Billy Strayhorn, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and others.
They even salute those other married fixtures of the cabaret scene, John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, with a rendition of the latter's "I Wouldn't Trade You."
Amid the Broadway staples and pop standards, the show's highlights are the relatively obscure gems "I Cannot Hear the City," a tender love song by Marvin Hamlisch and Craig Carnelia from the short-lived musical "Sweet Smell of Success," and Jim Lowe's satirical ditty "The Hamptons" ("Where it's awful nice and sunny/But, honey, bring your money").
Fasano supplies a deep poignancy to songs like Joni Mitchell's "Marcie" and Arlen/Mercer's "My Shining Hour," while Comstock, who also provides expert piano accompaniment, lends his droll comic style to numbers like "She's a Latin from Manhattan." But he's no slouch in the emotion department himself, as demonstrated by his beautifully understated "Some Other Time." Adding sublime musical support is bassist Sean Smith.
During the prolonged ovation that ended the evening, Comstock tried to get his distracted wife's attention by tapping her on the shoulder. It was a nice reminder that even loving couples have their awkward moments.