No, as a matter of fact, they all make Jeff Harnar look pretty darn good in his pinstripe suit. Seems that Jeff, as a child, was a . . . husky! And he did radio commercials. But that’s another story; reason enough, however, to have spent sometime on the couch figuring it out, getting slim and trim and serving as catalyst to segue from delicious crooner (which he still is) to a walk on the wild side. This show, at the Beechman Theatre (West Bank Cafe), is surely Lighter Fare for a Winter Night, and shows off his loopy, risqué side.
With Lawrence Yurman, musical director, Jered Egan on bass and Ray Machica on drums to back him up, Harnar unleashes a witty, comedic part of himself within the context of his life story. Moving around a lot as a kid, seeing Broadway for the first time he figured it’s “My Personal Property” (special lyrics Barry Kleinbort) while incorporating tried and true Cole Porter (special additional lyrics Harnar) in “I’m Throwing a Ball Tonight.” Now we come to an interesting concept – – a map of New York and its boroughs. If you look close enough, Manhattan is in the shape of a penis. Yes, that’s absolutely right, and there are “many boroughs around this geographic putz! “
It’s easy to see how the One train can be the urethra – it’s called #1. And that’s the way the explanation continued in Jim Walton’s song “The Shape of New York.” Not quite raunchy, but bordering on and adorably delivered by Harnar.
With a nice arrangement of Bernstein/Comden & Green’s “Lonely Town” the road to edgy was temporarily aborted with Harnar’s charming vocal style.
Many years in therapy resulted in some self-diagnosis and a most openly Jeff in Francesca Blumenthal’s clever “Between Men.” Taking on a German accent and characterization, fear was next on the list with Larry Kerchner’s witty “What’s Your Phobia?” It’s as if everything was turned upside down/inside out with Rick Crom’s spoof of Oklahoma, Sondheim style – “Sunday in the Meadow with Curley.”
The child of the 50s/60s had novelty on his mind with Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg and Allan Sherman songs, followed by remnants of the 60s (The Lion Sleeps Tonight/Big Girls Don’t Cry/. . .).
A recent recipient of the prestigious Noel Coward Award, Mr. Outrageous (a recent nom de plume I’ve bestowed on Mr. Harnar), proceeded to wow in his more familiar style with a soaring “Sail Away,” and then delivered one of the best renditions I’ve heard of “Mrs. Worthington.” Love and life were poignantly addressed in the beautiful “I Fall in Love Too Easily” followed by an emphatic wrap-around of “The World Goes Round/That’s Life” to thunderous applause.
What’s left to say but that Jeff Harnar is at the top of his game and certainly “Can Can!”
You’ve got one more date left to see this – – and I sincerely hope you do. Friday Feb. 8th, 7 pm www.westbankcafe.com 212 695-6909 407 West 42nd Street, NYC