El Nino or no, “Come Rain or Come Shine” — the sixth “Salon at the Taper” intimate cabaret-style revue organized by the Music Center’s Center Theatre Group — will explore the singular magic of tunesmith Johnny Mercer on Dec. 8, with cabaret master Michael Feinstein topping the list of talent appearing in the show.
The entire scope of Mercer’s oeuvre — he penned more than 1,000 tunes in collaboration with the likes of Andre Previn, Marvin Hamlisch, Harold Arlen and Henry Mancini, and also co-founded and served as the first president of Capitol Records — will be examined by the assembled force of musicians, singers, dancers and actors at the gala, which benefits programs ongoing at the CTG. The multi-Oscar-winning Alan Bergman, who learned the lyric-crafting gig at least partly at Mercer’s elbow, says the songwriter’s gift was unique and not easily categorized.
“This was a writer who could be funny, could say ‘I love you’ deeply, and yet be light-hearted all at one go,” Bergman said. “In a sense, this tribute is way overdue. He really was a giant, who had the knack of being able to move your mind, your heart and your feet at the same time.”
Among those sharing the bill with Feinstein (who will serve as the evening’s informal emcee) in saluting Mercer’s legacy of song will be Bergman, Margaret Whiting, singer-actress Linda Purl, the Gerry Wiggins Trio, Harry Groener, Charlayne Woodard, Julian Fleisher, Monica Mancini, John Pizzarelli and Blake McIver Ewing.