The cabaret community turned out to celebrate their special affection for our four-legged pals at a benefit for Zani’s Furry Friends, an animal rescue organization, with a show, “Love Makes The World Go ‘Round” at Birdland Saturday afternoon. The nearly two hour show kicked off with song and dance man Lee Roy Reams doing a terrific high energy “Before The Parade Passes By.” He was so terrific that the shows co-host, Eric Michael Gillett, later urged: “Lee Roy, I’ll pinch you if you sing some more.”
Most of the performers shared shaggy dog or fuzzy cat stories. Stephanie D’Abruzzo, who co-hosted the show with Gillett and made her Broadway debut in “Avenue Q,” reluctantly admitted that she’s allergic to real animals and is used to dealing with muppets. She sang a whimsical tune with Mark Janas on piano and Steve Doyle on bass. And Gillett did a good job with “Hold Me, Kiss Me, Thrill Me.
It reminded me a bit of the old Ed Sullivan Show when the youngest performer, 14, a Korean young lady sang and played a traditional Korean instrument. This variety show was a mixed bag with its ups and downs but but all of the cast shared a love for their furry friends.
Jim Brochu, who was a perfect Zero Mostel, told the audience about his 19-year-old cat named Steinbeck, and was fabulous performing “Ya Got Trouble” with the audience joining in. Moving away from the usual household pets, Steve Ross did a song about a hippo. Sarah Rice, who played the original Joanna in Sweeney Todd, adopted five cats including one named Mouse, sang a number from Rigoletto. Carole Demas, who created the character Sandy in the original “Grease” on Broadway, sang a beautiful and clever rendition of “Memories” from what else, but “Cats” and talked about her reptile friend of almost half a century, Tomsonturtle, while wondering aloud why no Broadway shows have been named for dogs, frogs or turtles.
The highlight was Billy Stritch and Marilyn Maye’s duet, “Counting Sheep” only to be topped by Maye and Brochu, who have never performed together, doing a fun and impromptu duet, “I Hear Singing” reminiscent of Ethel Merman and Donald O’Connor. Bring show biz pros like these two together for a worthwhile cause, and wow, what a treat!