Photo credit: David Andrako

Linda Lavin made her Café Carlyle debut last week.  I find it amazing that it took so long for her to arrive at this venue since she has had a prominent entertainment career for decades. Well, as the saying goes, she was worth waiting for as her performance, like her dress, was glittering.

Lavin opened with the Cole Porter standards “I’ve Got My Eyes on You,” and “You Do Something to Me.” The evening was happily laden with other selections by other song-writing giants such as Gershwin, Ellington, and Rodgers and Hart with the classics always sounding fresh and lively under Lavin’s delivery. Also featured was “You’ve Got Possibilities” from the 1966 Broadway musical It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman, which starred Lavin and was one of the first vehicles to bring her to prominence.

As with other performers I have seen at the Carlyle this season, Lavin was accompanied by an excellent band, with Billy Stritch on piano, Ron Affif (guitar), Tom Hubbard (bass) and Aaron Weinstein (violin).  Lavin’s husband, Steve Bakunas, played drums and occasionally sang with her.  Bakunas has a certain resemblance to Ted Danson.

A major highlight of the evening occurred when Lavin sang a musical tribute to the late Bobby Short who she rightfully remarked basically “owned” the Café. (A lovely portrait of Short is placed prominently at the entrance to the venue.)  Lavin said that she played one of Short’s records over and over again during college, helping to provide her with confidence to get through her freshmen year.

Lavin is, of course, most widely known for her portrayal of the title character in the long-running TV series Alice. She has also performed on Broadway to great acclaim in such productions as Broadway Bound (for which she won a Tony), Gypsy and The Diary of Anne Frank.

After viewing Ms. Lavin for so many years on TV it was interesting to see her in person.  She spoke of doubts as a youngster about whether she would be able to pursue an entertainment career.  I suppose most performers, no matter how talented, experience similar doubts.  But in her case, such thoughts would seem superfluous as seeing her live confirmed that she radiates deep reservoirs of talent.

Upcoming performances at the Carlyle include Kathleen Turner who will be appearing May 22-June 2.  And Woody Allen performs with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band every Monday evening through June 11.

Linda Lavin will be performing at the Carlyle through May 19.  It is no secret that Ms. Lavin is 80 years young. I hope that we are all glittering as well as she is at that age.

The Café Carlyle is located 35 East 76th St. in Manhattan.