Julian Fleisher and Martha Plimpton, imported from New York with the words “why are we here?” still ringing in their ears, display a freewheeling flair as they joke around and belt out standards, jazz tunes and a couple of Fleisher originals in their retro nitery act. Fleisher pushes the evening toward old-school lounge; the band of vibes, guitar, bass and drums make it swing; and Plimpton gives it attitude, part serious, part whimsy.
Yes, Plimpton, the stage and bigscreen actress, can sing quite well. She divinely dips into on “Why Was I Born” and “The Folks Who Live on the Hill” and makes “Out Here on My Own,” the Irene Cara hit with lyrics by Lesley Gore, a work of substance. On top of it all she’s a hoot, giving direction to la-di-da banter and maintaining a coy honesty.
Fleisher, though, is mostly in charge. Guitar often in hand, he brings a folky coffeehouse flair to the band’s jazz leanings; his peppy spirit is straight out of a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland musical.
Evening starts with the theme from “The Jeffersons,” suggesting novelty. Second, they cover Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” suggesting wedding band. Both suggestions are wrong. (One eventually wonders if those tunes fit in the categories they set up for each show — one song they’ve never performed, one they don’t like and one by a surprise guest). Eventually it’s clear that the night is about serious performances without a wink and glance, surrounded by dialogue one expects from a couple sharing their adoration for one another in public.
Funniest musical moment came in an unfinished original by Fleisher that evolved into a two-chord vamp, and the duo took turns singing every song they possibly get to fit, from “Man in the Mirror” to “Both Sides Now” to “Love Is All Around.” Priceless. And if that weren’t enough, the bar at stage left keeps pouring through the entire set.