Cabaret Review: STEPPIN’ OUT WITH FRED ASTAIRE (Gavin Lee at Birdland)

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by Paulanne Simmons on June 4, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Theater-New York


Gavin Lee first became fascinated with Fred Astaire when he was a child watching old movies on television. He also likes to dress up. If that doesn’t qualify him for his solo show, Steppin’ Out with Fred Astaire, certainly his fine voice and graceful tapping do.

The show, which made its debut at Birdland on May 29, is entertaining, informative and instructive. At one point, Lee demonstrates how Astaire put together a dance routine.

Backed by Brian Taylor on piano, Corey Schutzer on bass and Rich Rosenzweig on drums, Lee sings and dances his way through the major events of Astaire’s life, from his early days in vaudeville with his sister Adele to his iconic movies with Ginger Rogers and finally, his many films with other stars such as Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth and Eleanor Powell.

Lee covers a lot of ground in one hour. The songs Astaire sang were written by America’s greatest composers and have since become standards: Irving Berlin (“Cheek to Cheek,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz”)   George and Ira Gershwin (“Stairway to Paradise,” “Oh, Lady Be Good!,” “They Can’t Take that Away from Me”) Cole Porter (“Night and Day”). Astaire knew how to deliver a song and composers and lyricists were eager to have him introduce their work.

The show is also filled with interesting facts. When Fred and Adele were in their early teens their vaudeville careers were floundering and they were once replaced by a dog act. Astaire became friends with a kid who played sheet music in a piano store, a kid who altered his last name and became George Gershwin. Producer David O. Selznick was charmed by Astaire in spite of his “enormous ears and bad chin line.”

Lee has a much deeper, richer voice than Astaire. Which is a boon for modern audiences. He also has tremendous grace, humor and style. And he can really wear a tux.

Steppin’ Out with Fred Astaire, Birdland, 315 West 44 Street
for future shows, visit Birdland
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