Six noted performers meandered through 21 Sammy Cahn standards, a benefit for the Wilshire Theater Beverly Hills Revitalization Project, with bio bits provided by amiable onstage narrator Leonard Maltin. Accompanied by the duo piano team of producer-helmer Corky Hale and music director Jeff Lass, the hit-and-miss musical outpouring could have used a bit more rehearsal time.
Hale and Lass offered a zesty instrumental overture of Cahn fare, although an inconsistent sound system reduced their twin grands to the overtone level of toy pianos.
Despite the technical problems, thrush Freda Payne sensually worked her way through “Call Me Irresponsible” and the WWII hit “It’s Been a Long, Long Time.” Payne also paired quite nicely with smoothly elegant pop tenor Byron Motley on “It’s Magic,” penned by Cahn and Jule Styne for Doris Day’s 1948 debut film, “Romance on the High Seas.”
Other Cahn film score contributions included Judith Owen’s rapid fire “Thoroughly Modern Millie”; a shaky “Three Coins in the Fountain” from the threesome of Payne, Owen and Karen Morrow; and a totally throwaway outing on “Come Fly With Me” from Motley, Steve Tyrell and Harry Shearer.
The evening did have some decided plusses. Owen purred through a captivating “Tender Trap.” Morrow put her considerable Broadway chops on grand display with “Time After Time,” “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” and “I Should Care.”
Tyrell was the designated saloon crooner on Frank Sinatra’s signature “All the Way” and the ballad “Until the Real Thing Comes Along.” Satirist Shearer was comically endearing as he attempted to catch up to the lyrics of “Put Them in a Box.”