Executive producer, Carol Donovan; producer, Alex Coletti; line producer, Audrey Johns; director, Beth McCarthy; production designer, Tom McPhillips; lighting designer, Allen Branton; audio, John Harris, Mitch Maketansky; It’s hard to figure exactly what endears Tony Bennett to the Generation X set , and this hourlong showcase of the crooner’s best works should only exacerbate the head-scratching.
Bennett’s career has experienced a resurgence of late, thanks in part to his recent disc paying tribute to Frank Sinatra and his new-found popularity among the twentysomething set, who find the jazzy stylings of the sixtysomething singer sexy.
Show’s producers wisely incorporate a pair of contemporary artists to help Bennett sing and sway; in this setting that decision seems an effort to keep all but the most diehard fans from lapsing into comas, rather than a creative statement.
A warm and fuzzy reading with k.d. lang on one of Bennett’s signature nuggets , “Moon Glow,” has the androgynous artist doing her best Miss Chatelaine impersonation. It’s the show’s sole highlight.
An inexplicable pairing of Bennett with Elvis Costello follows, with each artist’s credibility suffering in the process.
Naturally, stylish versions of Bennett’s best-knowns, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “Fly Me to the Moon,” are rewarded with thunderous applause, and show’s finale of “Steppin’ Out” is met with a standing ovation.
But this spec does little to explain Bennett’s popularity, other than to illuminate what most of us have long recognized: The boy can sing.
Lethargic presentation, with its unimaginative direction and a big-guns set list as tailored as Bennett’s expensive suits, is difficult to watch. Viewers who tape the seg will likely find themselves with their fingers glued to the fast-forward button on their remote.