May 20, 2023
By Andrew Poretz …
Margo Brown returned to her cabaret home base at Don’t Tell Mama recently for two nights with her newest show, Forever Me with Love, which celebrated the release of her album of the same name. The lovely, vivacious performer flew up from Florida. This writer reviewed Margo’s 2022 show with Lisa Dellarosa [read HERE]. Theater Pizzazz was on hand for the first night.
The classy Ms. Brown, dressed in “Florida chic meets New York black,” was accompanied by two of New York’s finest musicians, musical director Jon Weber on piano and Steve Doyle on bass, with both men quite dashing in black tie and tuxedos.
Ms. Brown’s opening number, the Gershwins’ “Someone to Watch Over Me,” served as a foreshadow of her long search to find the kind of forever love her parents had.
The story of Ms. Brown’s parents’ long marriage set up her premise, that of a woman who “loved love” but for whom lasting love was elusive. Ms. Brown painted a funny, vivid picture of her father cold-calling her mother’s college dorm payphone in search of a date. That chance call led to marriage, Margo, and 62 years of wedded bliss, until death did they part.
The songs first took the audience on a musical journey through Ms. Brown’s two failed marriages, with songs like “Two For the Road” (Henry Mancini/Leslie Bricusse) and “Summer Me, Winter Me” (Michele Legrand/Alan and Marilyn Bergman). The latter song provided the title of the album and show. After her second marriage failed after 18 months, her exasperated mother told her, “Do me a favor. Live with the next one.”
While “I’m Through with Love” was not one of Ms. Brown’s songs, she was determined never to marry again but after her second divorce, she wondered, “Where Do You Start” (Johnny Mandel, Alan and Marilyn Bergman). During her long love drought, she found success in the computer industry. A business event led to the meet-cute story with George, the great love of her life. His line, “Thanks for saving my seat” made her laugh. It didn’t hurt that he was a handsome, athletic 6’3” fellow. The rather charming George was in the audience. When Margo dedicated “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” (Michele Legrand, Alan and Marilyn Bergman) to him, he looked on with a beatific glow of love for his wife.
Ms. Brown is a fine storyteller. The show was, essentially, the album come to life, with the dozen songs reordered or combined to fit the narrative. For the most part, Ms. Brown weaved her patter throughout the songs, an effective device for her. She is a competent singer with limited range and power; her strengths are in conveying the narrative, her interpretive skills, and in reaching the emotional truth in the material. Director Tanya Moberly’s expert touch took the evening to a far more satisfying place than any mere concert of the album.
Everything about the evening was quite elegant. Ms. Brown exudes elegance, with jazzy arrangements for the material arranged by Phil Hinton, in turn played elegantly by the marvelous duo of Messrs. Weber and Doyle.
Margo Brown: Forever Me with Love took place on May 9 and 10 at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street between Ninth and Eighth Avenue (www.don’ttellmama.com). The show will be reprised on July 13 and 15.
Article photos by Jeff Harnar
Featured photo: Steve Bustamante