It's The Norm
September 5-11, 2002 ARCHIVES
"It's The Norm" - Recent Entertainment Events in Las Vegas

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Fever


by Norm Johnson
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Went to the Judy Bayley Theatre the other evening to see and listen to songstress Lezlie Anders perform some of the music once sung by the legendary Peggy Lee, and went home with a feeling that I had actually spent another evening with Ms. Lee.

Ms. Anders and her fantastic husband, Buddy Greco, took two years to create the concept of "Fever" and it shows! It is one of the best "tribute shows" (I'm taking liberty here) I have had the pleasure to see, as well as a work of love for a wonderful lady who graced the stages of the world for over 50 years and passed into Musical Heaven earlier this year. It is a play dedicated to the "Lady of Song," but very lovingly and simply presented, as she would want it. Ms. Lee was a songstress, a composer and just a great woman. Between the two of them, Buddy and Lezlie, they have captured some of the moments of her life in song, beginning in the 40's and working forward to her final days on stage. What also makes this also very interesting is the little intimate bits of information the two pass on between songs.

From the moment the curtain went up to the final number it was 90 plus minutes of great Big Band music. Greco and arranger Joe Lano, of course, had some fantastic music to work with and the special arrangements the two men created for Ms. Anders were out of sight. Buddy, who actually began his illustrious career on the piano at age four and who, in 1951, joined the Benny Goodman band as a pianist / singer (Peggy Lee joined the same band in 1941) was in charge of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas Jazz Ensemble. The 14 wonderfully prepared musicians along with Greco's longtime friend John Nasshan on drums got it swinging with a great overture. Ms. Ander's first selection, "Why Don't You Do Right" was performed in an elegant gold gown (one of four beautiful gowns worn during the evening), followed by "It's a Good Day" with Greco following up with a medley of jazz tunes. Some of the songs such as "Manana", "Golden Earrings", "When in Rome" and "Big Spender" had dancers Dolly Kelepecz, David Scala and Marco Westwood joining Lezlie on stage.

There were many moments where I felt the lady on stage had actually metamorphosed herself into the Lady she was portraying. One of those dramatic moments occurred when she sang a song from the Jack Webb movie "Pete Kelly's Blues" (Ms. Lee was nominated for an Oscar), "Sing a Rainbow." It was beautiful! Buddy showed why is considered one of the best jazz pianists in the business today with a musical rendition of "Just One of Those Things," followed by the title song "Fever" performed by Ms. Anders in a flaming red gown.

The final two songs of the 22 plus musical selections picked to depict Ms. Lee's career (of course they had to eliminate a bunch) were just magnificently performed by Lezlie. "Is That All There Is" was a moment one does not want to have come to an end. She closed out the evening with "I'll Be Seeing You," which brought the audience to its feet.

According to Buddy and Lezlie plans call for them to take "Fever" to the four corners of the world beginning next year. This year, between their own individual tour dates, they will present it at a few select cities back east.

All I can say is if you're ever in a city where "Fever" is being performed by Lezlie Anders and Buddy Greco do yourself a big favor. Get a ticket and go watch two musical magicians transform your thoughts back to a time when Ms. Peggy Lee graced the stages of the world.

That's it for this week. I';m outa here!

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