There were a lot of kisses exchanged during The Prince and the Showboy, Michael Sterling’s newest baby at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal in the Valley’s NoHo district. This showed the true affection between the two principals, Faith Prince and Jason Graae. The duo made a melodic threesome with musical director Alex Rybeck.
It was pure cabaret and if you closed your eyes, you could have sworn you were in the Algonquin, Carlyle, or Feinstein’s, where cabaret is at its best. You couldn’t beat those voices, especially in a building that was originally a bank.
Faith Prince, Tony winner for portraying Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and her colleague, Jason Graae, an LA Drama Critic Circle Awards winner, dazzled the house comprised of theater and cabaret aficionados with familiar faces like Nancy Dussault and Jo Anne Worley. It was great to see El Portal’s Creative Directors Pegge Forrest and Jay Irwin enjoying some off-duty time. (We love the El Portal, right around the corner.)
“Who knew we’d be opening in NoHo?” joked Faith, who seemed just as comfy on Lankershim Boulevard as she might be on Park Avenue.
The cabaret was comprised of some original tunes (including one devoted to this NoHo club) to a tribute to composer Jerry Herman, including “Bosom Buddies.” “We invited him tonight,” Jason said. “But he did not return our calls.” But they are not strangers. Herman did call the singer at one time to extend an invite to sing on his special. “How did you get my number,” Jason asked. “Don’t I have agents?” he joked.
On a serious note, Jason pointed out that Herman probably didn’t realize at the time in the early ‘80s when he composed La Cage Aux Folles’ I Am What I Am, it would be a sign of something to come. “With all the teenage gay bullying going on these days, this song holds the test of time and is a stronger than ever.”
The fans of Liza Minnelli sang a couple of her tunes. Said Faith, “I was performing at Rainbow and Stars and my idol, Liza (who was with Desi Arnaz Jr.), asked to meet me. Me? Years later, we worked together. The crowd was screaming for Liza. She told me she could not go on yet. I assured her that the audience would be happy with her reading the phone book. She said, ‘Do ya think?’”
Faith mentioned that she was always the last to leave a theatre and she didn’t know what that was about. One day, she heard some footsteps and a voice. It was the legendary Elaine Stritch. “This is the last time I’m climbing four flights to see anyone,” Elaine said. “Now, where’s the john?” The song, “Ladies Who Lunch,” followed.
The esteemed pair was not afraid to go the distance and at one point regaled us with kazoos, which added to their charm. Between the two, they’ve done 13 Broadway shows, more lucky than unlucky! For further information about Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal: www.msapr.net.