Moreno, Minnelli and more highlight Palladium gala

June 30, 2013
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June 29 was a night to remember for music fans and stargazers as Michael Feinstein offered the second year of the Great American Songbook Hall of Fame gala concerts.

Honorees this year were Frank Sinatra for the posthumous Legend award, Jimmy Webb for the Songbook award (for lyricists and composers), and Liza Minnelli and Rita Moreno for the New Standard award (for any artist "who continues to create the soundtrack of our lives by writing and/or performing music that will stand the test of time and become the pop standards of tomorrow.") The festivities actually began on June 28 with a dinner and Feinstein performance at the Indiana Roof Ballroom.

Having just returned from the Saturday evening portion of the celebration, which featured the concert/tributes and post-show parties, I thought I'd simply outline some of the evening's many highlights. If you attended, please share your favorite moments.

—The Broadway-cred dancers brought in to spruce up the "There's No Business Like Show Business" overture.

—Feinstein's crack about "It's a Small World After All" making everyone want to kill Walt Disney.

—The choice of Webb's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as the song sung in his tribute. While "Up Up and Away," "Wichita Lineman" and others may be more familiar, "Mistress" is a great Webb tune not identified too closely with one version. And Tom Wopat handled it well.

—The fact that there was only one "cake left in the rain" joke.

—The gorgeous photos of the very young Rita Moreno in her tribute video.

—The fact that Rita Moreno is even more beautiful and poised now (but why no reference to "The Electric Company"?).

—Jimmy Smits' heartfelt tribute to Moreno.

—Jose Feliciano's compelling playing and singing—in Spanish—of "Strangers in the Night" (although he nearly crashed the song by ending with a juvenile joke).

—Dance Kaleidoscope's Jillian Godwin's fierce dance to "That's Life" for the Sinatra tribute.

—Liza Minnelli's intense, enthusiastic, "go for it girl" attention on Godwin during that dance number.

—Feinstein's earnest plug for DK after Godwin's performance. ("You folks have to see the work of Dance Kaleidoscope. They're sensational.")

—Feinstein's calling Minnelli "a really great dame" in his intro to her tribute (but why no mention of "Arrested Development"?).

—Feinstein's fill-in for the announced Megan Hilty (weather-related transportation problems) with a powerful take on the Minnelli standard "Maybe This Time"—with killer support from the overall strong on-stage orchestra.

—The orchestra's equally strong partnership with Great American Songbook competition winner Nick Ziobro on "I Won't Dance"—and the fact that Feinstein trusted the young man enough to have him follow such a strong lineup. 

—Webb's humble acceptance speech, classifying himself as occupying only a corner ("with an asterisk") of the Great American Songbook.

—Moreno's flamboyant approach to the podium—with a broken toe no less—and her wonderful acceptance speech. Yes, I agree with what Feliciano said earlier: Give this woman another part on Broadway.

—Minnelli, "too insecure to just get an award and leave," delivering a rendition of "New York, New York" in which, even with trouble with both her slacks and some of the notes, she managed, once again, to define "star."

—The gentleman usher who, in talking to me about upcoming Palladium shows, referred to Diane Ross as "that gal who sang with the Supremes."

—In one of the after-party lounges, Wopat's taking the microphone for a rendition of "Makin' Whoopee"—with Indy's own Brent Marty on piano, playing like the two have been partners for years.   

—The realization that galas aren't the only time central Indiana is attracting Great American Songbook talent: Webb recently played the Palladium. Wopat performed at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club. Minnelli sang with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. The commitment of the Palladium, the ISO and the Cabaret to the genre certainly makes me feel like I've got the world on a string and that I'm sittin' on a rainbow. 

Your thoughts?

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  • $$$
    The only thought that I have is that usually, about a year later, we find out that the gala cost the taxpayers a couple hundred thousand dollars.
  • Go post on...
    Carmel Chatter where you belong! Leave this magical night to those of us that pay through ticket prices, direct giving, and yes, our property taxes, to enjoy and savor! Bravo Michael Feinstein, Mayor Brainard, and Tania Castroverde Moskalenko!!!
  • Couple of comments
    There was one comment by Jimmy Smits where he sarcastically called Indiana a progressive state. Maybe total of five people laughed at that joke. Although considering Mike Pence was in the audience, the joke was probably not that inappropriate. Also Feinstein claimed that anyone not familiar with Lisa M's work is probably a Taliban and will be deported shortly.
  • Barry before Frank?
    As a huge GAS fan, I agree, Lou, that having all of this in Indy is incredible. But it doesn't explain how Barry Manilow got into the Hall of Fame before Frank Sinatra.
  • Recent
    The Great American Songbook Hall of Fame is something that Michael Feinstein made up while in Carmel. It's only one year old. http://www.thecenterfortheperformingarts.org/Great-American-Songbook-Inititative/Great-American-Songbook-Hall-of-Fame
  • FYI
    The Broadway choreographer who designed that great opening number was Josh Prince, who was born in Indy and attended North Central High School.

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  1. Why should I a home owner pay for this"car sharing" ????

  2. By the way, the right to work law is intended to prevent forced union membership, not as a way to keep workers in bondage as you make it sound, Italiano. If union leadership would spend all of their funding on the workers, who they are supposed to be representing, instead of trying to buy political favor and living lavish lifestyles as a result of the forced membership, this law would never had been necessary.

  3. Unions once served a noble purpose before greed and apathy took over. Now most unions are just as bad or even worse than the ills they sought to correct. I don't believe I have seen a positive comment posted by you. If you don't like the way things are done here, why do you live here? It would seem a more liberal environment like New York or California would suit you better?

  4. just to clear it up... Straight No Chaser is an a capella group that formed at IU. They've toured nationally typically doing a capella arangements of everything from Old Songbook Standards to current hits on the radio.

  5. This surprises you? Mayor Marine pulled the same crap whenhe levered the assets of the water co up by half a billion $$$ then he created his GRAFTER PROGRAM called REBUILDINDY. That program did not do anything for the Ratepayors Water Infrastructure Assets except encumber them and FORCE invitable higher water and sewer rates on Ratepayors to cover debt coverage on the dough he stole FROM THE PUBLIC TRUST. The guy is morally bankrupt to the average taxpayer and Ratepayor.

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