On Monday June 11 there were enough sparks to set Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal on fire as Jason Graae and Tony Award winner Faith Prince seized the stage with the premiere of their new show The Prince and the Showboy to an adoring packed house. Graae's inimitable sarcasm and overdone delivery along with Prince's unique pauses and double takes made for a delicious evening of comedy though song as they focused on what makes them click as a team, namely the fun side of life. They both have performed a lot of Jerry Herman music in their careers, and so spent a third of the 70 minute set singing some of his very best tunes. Fine musical director Alex Rybeck accompanied at the piano throughout the evening.
On the bill were a wonderfu
l opening medley of songs, some with reworded lyrics, to explain the show's title like "Some Day My Prince
Will Come", "Look at That Faith
Will Come Out Tomorrow" ending with a terrific "Liza With a Z". Prince explained later that of her many idols, which include Lucille Ball
and Carol Burnett
, Liza Minnelli
is at the top of the list. Graae and Prince sang a couple of tunes together, then he took the stage for one or two, she came on for two, and so on. Other highlights were: Graae's fun "Popular" from Wicked
interrupted by a supposed cell phone call from Kristin Chenoweth
, and diametrically opposed: a beautifully sensitive rendering of "What More Can I Say?" from Falsettos.
Prince delighted with Sondheim's "The Boy From...", and a splendid "Ladies Who Lunch" from Company
, as a tribute to Elaine Stritch
. Comedic duets were abundant, among them "I'm a Little Bit Off" and "You and Me But Mostly Me". From Jerry Herman
's collection there were a few introductory verses from "Bosom Buddies" - I wanted more... the entire song - a bold "I Am What I Am" by Graae punctuating its message with references to the horrid problem of teenage gay bullying and a radiant "If He Walked Into My Life" by Prince. They concluded serenely with "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Spamalot
and "Nowadays" from Chicago.
Graae is one of the best comedic forces on a cabaret stage; Prince makes an indelible match with her witty, no nonsense approach. Put them together...and great spontaneous humor and harmony result; it's pure magic! I understand next stop for The Prince and the Showboy
is the brand new club 54 Below
in NYC! Knock 'em dead!