Showstoppers: The Songs of Kander and Ebb

Showstoppers: The Songs of Kander and Ebb

Showstoppers: The Songs of Kander and Ebb
Created by Wade Hair
Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL

Who knew Kander and Ebb wrote so many flops? These two guys were one of the great writing teams of the 20th century stage; giving us the mega stage hits “Chicago” and “Cabaret.” But chances are, you’ve never seen (nor are you likely to see) the likes of “Steel Pier” or “Flora the Red Menace” or “70, Girls, 70” or half a dozen more obscurities even if they did contain one or two great numbers. Local impresario Wade Hair scoured the internet and his own encyclopedic knowledge of K&E material to create this friendly cabaret, and most of the singing comes from his talented throat. Supporting him are Krystal Gillette and his daughter Erin Hair, and despite some rambling introductions, this is a class act.

Kander and Ebb’s first Broadway foray was the aforementioned “Flora…” in 1965. Hair sings “Dear Love,” a typical ballad of longing for romance that doesn’t break new ground, but it allows Hair to warm up and draw us into his world. “Flora…” was not well received on Broadway but led to Liza Minnelli’s first Tony Award. Kander and Ebb worked with Minnelli for most the mutual careers, their mix of romanticism and jaded show business smarts worked well with Minnelli’s strong voice and famous-too-soon personality. Hair’s next number is Billy Flynn’s “All I care about” from “Chicago.” Surprises and forgotten gems fill the show, young women dance out with audience treats during “Sara Lee”, and Hair has found numerous video clips of awards ceremonies and Dinah Shore Show performances to highlight the history of Kander and Ebb. Some of the video quality is ultra low-res You Tube, but there’s a real feeling of history and continuity in this work, and the house was packed with enthusiastic fans of the American Musical. Don’t you wish you’d put on your tux and dropped by?

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