Cabaret Review: HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD! (Billy Stritch, Carole J. Bufford and Liam Forde at Birdland)

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by Paulanne Simmons on June 18, 2023

in Concerts / Events,Theater-New York


Most songs became standards because they were made famous by popular singers. So it’s easy to forget how many of them were introduced on the silver screen. Hooray for Hollywood!, the musical revue that made its New York debut at Birdland Theater on June 15, is a welcome reminder of the many songs that were introduced on film by stars such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Judy Garland.

Billy Stritch, Carole J. Bufford and Liam Forde

The show begins and ends with its title song, “Hooray for Hollywood,” featured in the 1937 film, Hollywood Hotel. In between there’s over an hour of some of Hollywood’s most beloved tunes.

Billy Stritch narrates, plays the piano and sings, along with Carole J. Bufford and Liam Forde. Stritch sees some major themes in songs created for films. Many songs involve dance and were introduced by Fred Astaire. From the piano bench, Stritch gives us “Never Gonna Dance,” from Spring Time. While Forde and Bufford collaborate for “Cheek to Cheek” from Top Hat.

Liam Forde

Of course, Hollywood has always been obsessed with romance because, as Stritch puts it, “There are too many dollar signs in love to turn its back on it.” Bufford has us falling in love all over again with “How Little We Know” from To Have and Have Not. While Forde expresses the disappointing side of love with “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” (another Fred Astaire dance number) from The Band Wagon.

And, for some reason, many film songs are about weather. Forde has us remembering Gene Kelly “Singin’ in the Rain” and Donald O’Connor proclaiming “It’s a Lovely Day Today.”

Carole J. Bufford and Liam Forde

Fans of Judy Garland are in for a special treat with Bufford’s terrific renditions of “You Made Me Love You,” which Garland sings to a photo of Clark Gable in Broadway Melody; “The Trolley Song” from Meet Me in St. Louis; “The Man That Got Away” from A Star is Born; and “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz.

Carole J Bufford

One of the highlights of the show is Stritch’s movie theme medley. Stritch challenges the audience to figure out which songs came from what movie. The game makes listening even more pleasurable.

The revue,  devised by writer and producer Barry Day, has been touring nationally, but was presented at Birdland to benefit The Mabel Mercer Foundation. The foundation was founded in 1985 to support cabaret and its repertoire, the Great Songbook. So it is altogether fitting that this revue pays tribute to film, which made such a significant contribution to that songbook.

Carole J Bufford, Billy Stritch

photos by Conor Weiss

Hooray for Hollywood!
Birdland, 315 West 44 Street
played on Thursday, June 15 at 8:30 PM

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