Craig Pomranz’s thoroughly entertaining Love and the Weather is a clever concept. Love and the weather, birds of a feather/Can’t be depended upon/One day it’s sunny, next day the sunshine has gone, (“Love and the Weather,” Irving Berlin) he sings with a sad shrug in his voice. Weather is a great metaphor for the vicissitudes of life and love. The sheer number and variety of applicable songs must’ve been daunting. Those selected are an artful mix of the familiar and unusual.
Pomranz is a completely natural and accessible performer. Complicity with his audience is established almost immediately. From the breezily crooned “Speaking of the Weather” (E.Y. Harburg/Harold Arlen, written for Gold Diggers of 1937), to a jaunty but subdued, soft-shoe-like arrangement of “I Found a Million Dollar Baby” (Billy Rose/Mort Dixon/Harry Warren) and “My Blue Heaven” (George Whiting/Walter Donaldson), his focus is on the lyrics. Every decision about phrasing, every economic gesture is in service of faithful, unfussy expression. Comments are kept to an appreciated minimum. Patter is genial, informative, light.
A lilting pop rendition of Neil Sedaka’s classic “Laughter in the Rain” elicits nostalgia and a smile. It’s a pretty song, deserving more credit than usually attributed. and Musical Director and Accompanist, Stephen Bucchino comes in with easy vocal harmony on the chorus. Pomranz’s high notes are soft and pure. This is followed by Irving Berlin’s charming “A Fella with an Umbrella” “almost sung by Peter Lawford to Judy Garland in Easter Parade.” Remember her terrible hat?! The waltzy arrangement is an interesting choice complementing the number and ending the show’s “rain section.”
“Ill Wind” (Ted Koeler/Harold Arlen) and “Gone with the Wind” (Herb Magidson/Allie Wrubel) are paired with honey-cured, jazz accompaniment. Pomranz’s voice becomes dusky and grave without ever bruising. The room stills. Bocchino’s hands pass delicately over the keys.
“I feel compelled at this point to mention that weather can be deceptive and offer this advice…” is the lead in to the comedy number “Ten Good Years” (Martin Charnin/Luther Henderson with additional lyrics by Pomranz). Undoubtedly written for a revue, it describes the brief window at the height of one’s attractiveness before botox and liposuction seem viable resorts-all that sun! Bocchino provides chipper vocal back-up. A little more acid and it might be Dorothy Parker.
“Hot In Here,” (Amanda McBroom/Michelle Bourman) a torch song minus histrionics, is performed with subtle phrasing, leaning against the piano. Accompaniment is lush. Cole Porter’s “Too Darn Hot” follows as the night the day. Here we have full musical theater treatment with the duo singing back and forth buoyantly, playing with lyrics: “…according to Kraft Ebbing and Bristol Palin…beaucoup de chaud…hot! hot! hot! as the piano punctuates with pep. (An irresistible phrase).
The rest of the program ranges from the gorgeous “Blackberry Winter” (Alec Wilder/Loomis McGlohon) sung tenderly with the slightest vibrato and the poignant “Come the Wild Wild Weather” (Noel Coward) offered with a slightly raised eyebrow and clasped hands, to a bouncy forties-style “Let it Snow” (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne).
The single medley that feels out of place, not for its subject matter but rather the frequency with which it’s performed, is that of “Stormy Weather” and “When the Sun Comes Out” (Ted Koeler/Harold Arlen). Pomranz’s big, controlled voice opens full throttle frankly straining the rafters, then withdraws only to let loose again. The songs are soaring and dramatic, of course. The singer is capable; the music textural. Still, haven’t they been done and done?
Encores include “Rain Sometimes,” a simply lovely song by Arthur Hamilton:
Rain sometimes/Money down the drain, sometimes/Reason to complain, sometimes/
That’s how it’ll be.
This is a well calibrated, deftly directed show with something for everyone. Bocchino’s vocals are well placed and welcome, his arrangements add emotional resonance.
Love and the Weather
Vocals, Craig Pomranz
Piano, Vocals, Musical Direction, Stephen Bocchino
Directed by Ron Cohen
The Metropolitan Room
34 West 22nd Street
212 206 0440 or metropolitanroom.com
One more night October 12 at 9:30 p.m.