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Stage legend Joel Grey knocks ‘em dead at QPAC

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Joel Grey has been around since 1932, and with more than 50 years on the New York stage, he has, like a fine rare wine, matured to a level of consummate perfection and stands out as one of the truly gifted artists of this age or any other.

With an entertainment resume replete with accolades stemming from his many successes on the stage and in recordings, concerts, television shows, and the silver screen, Grey, backed by the 15-piece Ed Conte Orchestra, gave a one-man show at the Queensborough Community College Performance Arts Center on Sunday that will be remembered and talked about for a very, very long time.

Opening the show with his signature song from the show of the same name, “Cabaret,” Grey continued to enthrall and entertain the mostly middle-aged to senior audience with Broadway songs, Yiddish comic routines and tidbits of history about his own experiences as a published and acclaimed photographer, his mentoring father and the recent endowment named after him, The Mickey Katz Chair for Yiddish Music.  

Grey danced to and sang some of the tunes he made famous over the years, along with some well-known hits associated with other stage and screen artists, such as “Singing In The Rain,” a Gene Kelly standard; Fred Astaire’s “I Got Rhythm”; Cole Porter’s “Begin The Beguine”; Al Jolson’s historic classic, “California Here I Come”; and even a Billy Joel-penned hit, “Just the Way You Are.” 

Grey’s eclectic and energetic show, without an intermission, was an entertaining and creative mixture of Burlesque shtick replete with Yiddish inside jokes, short stories and songs from his favorite composer, Irving Berlin, such as “Always,” “Blue Skies,” “I’m Happy” and “Low Down Blues.” The show was an unequivocal success from start to finale, with the audience’s inspired standing ovation leading to Grey’s beautiful encore selection, “Till We Meet Again.”

This show, according to Susan Agin, the artistic and executive director of the QPAC, with all 875 seats sold out, was the highest-grossing show in the history of the performing arts center at Queensborough. The next show will be the Flying Karmazov Brothers on Sunday, Oct. 19. Check the Web site at www.visitqpac.org for show times.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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