The Metropolitan Room was packed for Jamie DeRoy’s Annual Celebration of The Academy Awards on Monday, February 16, 2009. Jamie opened up the show with a funny song called “Academy Awards” – a piece of special material of someone thanking everyone from their chiropractor to their dog walker and it set the tone for a festive evening with many of her talented “friends.” She also interspersed interesting facts about the Oscars over the years. Lanny Myers was the musical director at the piano and the show was directed by Barry Kleinbort.
First up was Gay Marshall who is known for her Piaf show singing; “La Vie En Rose” although the song never won an Academy Award, it did represent the recent Piaf biopic. Then she sang a lovely rendition of “You Light Up My Life” from 1977, Debbie Boones’ big hit. A real treat was Sarah Jane McMahon, an opera diva, who wowed the crowd with the 1940 winner, “When You Wish Upon A Star.”
As a change of pace, Steven Scott (son of Newscaster Marvin Scott) made the audience laugh with his comic routine And his remarkable ability to imitate sounds. He even played the piano and became a trumpet, a sax and harmonica. Steven is a one-man band. Next on stage was Leenya Rideout, a gifted young woman who sings and plays 7 instruments.Leenya and Jamie dueted on “High Hopes” from 1959. Leenya performed a tender “It Might As Well Be Spring” (1945) And, accompanying herself on guitar, sang a rousing “Let The River Run,” Carly Simon’s winner from 1988. Leenya played the violin as Jamie sang the 1968 “Windmills Of Your Mind.” Next up was Rex Reed, the famous and charming journalist who has covered the Oscars for many years and he reminisced about the old days when movie stars were really stars. Today he prefers to watch the ceremony on TV in bed eating a pizza. Daryl Glenn, the recent NightLife Award winner for his Nashville show, performed Keith Carradine’s 1975 song “I’m Easy.”
The last guest was the legendary songwriter Stephen Schwartz who won the Oscar in 1995 for “Colors Of The Wind” written with Alan Menken from Pocahontas and three years later “When You Believe” from The Prince of Egypt. He sat at the piano and sang both of those remarkable songs. It is always a special treat to hear a songwriter perform his own songs and especially someone as talented and successful as Stephen Schwartz.
Jamie is a terrific host and producer and we all hope that she will continue to celebrate Oscar in her own inimitable way for many years to come.
By: Linda Amiel Burns
Photography: Barry Gordin