Keeps rainin' all the time

About 50 guests left behind gray skies and misty air for a lighter take on stormy weather inside Fulton Recital Hall Thursday. Three petite, white-haired women rode the Goodspeed elevator to the fourth-floor auditorium, humming old showtunes. The trio joined other early birds in the lobby, dishing on a recent AARP Magazine article. But once the doors opened, they abandoned talk of cancer, blood pressure, and strokes for an afternoon escape.

At the Music Department’s free noontime concert, “Stormy Weather: Songs from 1933,” the mood was more mirth than melancholy. On a stage set with greenery and a bowl of floating candles, soprano Jess Cullinan and pianist Richard Plotkin bowed and then launched into the Ted Koehler (lyrics) and Harold Arlen (music) classic. A project assistant and computer tech in music, Cullinan may not have known “why there’s no sun in the sky,” but she did explain her selections: “I chose the year 1933 for Billie Holiday”—the year of the crooner’s first recording—“and for the music,” all Top 40 hits from movies or Broadway. With that explanation out of the way, Cullinan and music graduate student Plotkin carried on, working through 13 more numbers, including “The Song is You” and “Love is the Sweetest Thing.”

Finished 45 minutes later, the duo bowed again and exited stage left. Back in the lobby the crowd lingered, avoiding what awaited them outside, weather- or otherwise.

By M.L.

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Photos: 20th Century Fox 1943.

November 19, 2004