Noêl Coward was the height of sophistication as reflected in the lyrics of his songs. Sophistication is also an indelible quality that can be applied to Simon Green, who superbly sings Coward in his current show, "Life Is For Living: Conversations with Coward." Mixing readings from Coward with a program of songs, accompanied on piano by David Shrubsole, Green exudes wit and charm.
Green has specialized in Coward and, while not trying to do a direct imitation, captures Coward’s high-brow tone. It is exceedingly pleasurable to watch Green channel the late multi-faceted star with simplicity and an ultra engaging manner.
For example, he brings new life to such favorites as “Later Than Spring,” “I Went to a Marvelous Party,” and “Sail Away.” The performance is in a tiny theater with tables arranged nightclub style, and that provides an audience with welcome intimacy.
Green also sings numbers by a few others, as listed in the program. One with special appeal is “The Little Old Bar at the Ritz,” which has lyrics by Cole Porter and music by Green’s accompanist, Shrubsole. However, Green should make a point of noting every song not by Coward, as some sound as if they could have been written by him. But Green obviously tries to keep a smooth flow between singing and reading and doesn’t take much time for commentary or tidbits of information.
He keeps the program simple and nimble, and in the process we learn much about Coward’s life and thoughts on a variety of subjects. If you are a Coward fan or just seeking enjoyment, Green is someone to spend time with in making your entertainment rounds. At 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, Phone: 212-279-4200. Reviewed December 19, 2016.