The Lure of Lutvak
By Barbara & Scott Siegel, InTheater

When people speak of "The American Songbook," they are generally referring to the music and lyrics of the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, et al; but said songbook is not only a thing of the past. It's alive in the work of young, talented composers like Steven Lutvak, who recently sang his own stuff at Eighty Eight's.

Lutvak wrote himself a clever opening number, "I Just Wanted You to Know," which sends up those all-too autobiographical cabaret acts that have become unavoidable; here, Lutvak promised (threatened?) to tell us about his first shoplifting experience, his first kiss... and more. But he did share something of his real life in the show. From a comic yet poignant remembrance of young love ("Debbie & Teddy & Me") to a heartbreaking song about an absent father ("Museums"), he stirred our emotions. His music gracefully undulates from phrase to phrase in songs like "A Lover of High Wire" (co-authored by Carol Hall), "Inside My Body Is a Dancer," and "I'll Imagine You a Song."

As a lyricist, Lutvak often surprises the listener, as in his beautiful and original love song "Man of Words." His comedic skill is evident in the wildly funny phrase turning of his MAC Award-winning "The Dinner Party" (a.k.a. "Bagelmaker to the Tsar").

These numbers, all of which were offered at Eighty Eight's, are wonderful additions to The American Songbook. Steven Lutvak is one of a handful of composers working in cabaret today who undoubtedly will be (and should be) writing the Broadway musicals of the future.

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