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A Bit of Broadway on Madison - Michael Cavanaugh at Steuben Glass

by Robert Abrams
October 16, 2003
Steuben Glass Showroom
667 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021
(212) 752-1441

A Bit of Broadway on Madison - Michael Cavanaugh at Steuben Glass

Robert Abrams
October 16, 2003

Steuben Glass presented a very special evening for its loyal customers tonight in honor of its Centennial Year. In addition to the usual displays of the finest glass anywhere (THE wedding gift for those who know how to give gifts at weddings), they unveiled a limited edition Steuben Steinway Piano (also in honor of Steinway's 150th year - and in a weird bit of coincidence, it is also the 150th year of the Children's Aid Society, whose annual meeting I attended just before this Steuben Glass event where CAS honored some major figures in the world of art and education: Dr. Sidney Harman, executive chairman - Harman International Industries, Inc., Judith Jamison, artistic director - Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Kevin McKenzie, artistic director - American Ballet Theatre).

The Steuben Steinway grand piano, designed by Eric Hilton, was a magnificent work of art just sitting in the middle of the room. When Michael Cavanaugh began playing it, though, the piano truly came alive. Michael Cavanaugh plays the piano in the Broadway dance-musical Movin' Out, which if you like Billy Joel's music is a must see. Mr. Cavanaugh and his band in Movin' Out does a good job of playing like they were in a rock concert. Tonight, Mr. Cavanaugh proved that he could rock the house in a more intimate setting. The volume may have been lower, but his energy was still at eleven.

He also proved that the average Steuben Glass customer, at least when combined into a chorus, is a half decent singer. He got the audience to sing along to key parts of several tunes. I knew Steuben's store was a place of beauty, but who knew it was also a space capable of participatory art?

Mr. Cavanaugh played many Billy Joel standards. He also treated the audience to his rendition of Downeastern Alexa. This was a Billy Joel song I had never heard, despite having been partial to his music in high school. The music was compelling and the lyrics had a meaning and sophistication that you rarely find in pop music these days. Mr. Cavanaugh played the song by request of several people in the audience, which just goes to show that Steuben Glass customers are sophisticated Billy Joel fans. Mr. Cavanaugh played a few non-Joel tunes, such as some by the Beatles, Elton John and others. Finally, after almost an hour of pounding away at the keys (a piano is most properly considered a percussion instrument by those in the know after all), he played one of his own compositions, Dig In. The crowd was grooving as he poured his heart into the gorgeous piano.

The only thing wrong with the evening was the lack of a dance floor. Most of the tunes would have had a Swing crowd working the floor with gusto. Mr. Cavanaugh's rendition of Frank Sinatra's New York New York would have made for some great Foxtrot (or the Rockettes-style kick line he half jokingly suggested the audience launch into). There would have been, of course, the small matter of breaking expensive glass art work with an errant Lindy aerial, but I am sure the Steuben Glass staff can figure out a solution to that potential problem for their next party.

Mr. Cavanaugh played the role of Billy Joel to a T tonight by continually resisting requests to play Piano Man and then finally giving in and playing it with feeling at the very end of the show, just as Billy Joel himself often does.

Steuben Glass' works are all stunning. They catch and bend the light in some of the most amazing ways. While some of their works are very expensive, they also make smaller items that cost about $100 or so, so you don't have to break the bank to give a quality gift. All in all, this was an evening equal in quality to Steuben Glass' art.

For more information about Steuben Glass, visit their store at 667 Madison Avenue (at 61st street in New York City), or on the web at www.steuben.com. For more on Michael Cavanaugh visit www.michaelcavanaugh.com. For more on Movin' Out, visit www.movinoutonbroadway.com.

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