Jamie deRoy & friends
At the recent Metropolitan Room presentation, deRoy (pictured) shone as a performer as well as host, getting her audience guffawing right from the start with a rueful parody based on Steve Allen's “This Could Be the Start of Something Big.” Parodies were to be a feature that night, with three of the four written by the show's director, Barry Kleinbort.
deRoy’s supply of supremely talented “friends” never seems to flag. Following her rib-tickling opener, she introduced Emmy Award-winning singer/songwriter Victoria Shaw. “I Love the Way You Love Me,” Shaw’s Country Music Association Song of the Year (1993) written with Chuck Cannon, was paired with her grin-gathering “Waikiki Cowboy” (written with GaryBurr).
If you’re thinking “variety,” what should follow a country music singer? How about a vivacious violinist who gave, if not the very first, probably the most energetic rendition of Vivaldi’s “Winter” ever heard in a cabaret room? Daisy Jopling then switched to an electric fiddle to follow Vivaldi with an equally unexpected number by, guess who?, Pete Townshend of The Who.
Cabaret/Broadway luminary Karen Mason maintained the night's grin quotient with a second Kleinbort parody, “Show Queen,” based on Lerner and Loewe's “Show Me” (you can't argue with Kleinnbort’s wit, or his choice of tunes). “Cold Enough to Cross,” a delightful number written by Mason’s husband, Paul Rolnick, with Henry Cory, was reassuring. Happily, contemporary songwriters can hold their own.
Yet to come were Mo Rocca, a dead-pan funnyman obsessed with off-the-beaten-track minutiae, including the sexual habits of kangaroos and the capital cities of unfamiliar countries that but few in the room might even be able to spell. When Jamie's interview and the banter were over, he revealed a pleasing voice with the Schwartz/Dietz “Rhode Island Is Famous for You.”
Singer Valarie Pettiford's abundant energy matched Victoria Shaw's, and she poured it all into “All That Jazz,” and “Crazy, Maybe,” a song by Musical Director Ron Abel and Chuck Steffan.
The task of wrapping things up prior to deRoy's closing song went to stand-up comic Lisa Lampanelli. A veteran of TV's Celebrity Apprentice and an equal-opportunity insulter, she took political incorrectness to new heights, garnering nary a single complaint along the way from an audience more often than not howling with laughter.
Like a carefully chosen Bordeaux, Jamie deRoy & Friends seems to get better with every passing year.