That charming and puckish cabaret doyen Ira Lee Collings is certified proof that “life begins at 80.” The self-described “Gay Geezer” is a delightful and dapper old boy who’s done a lot of living. (Featured photo: Ira Lee Collings, in back: A cheerleader for all times!)
He’s only too happy to share his philosophy that Life Is a Song – So Why Not Sing It? – with three shows at Don’t Tell Mama, on September 26, October 2 and October 29, all at 7:15 PM, with Music Director John M. Cook on piano. Ira’s reboot of this happy-making show features his signature high-spirited “weed songs” plus great tunes from the popular television show, Your Hit Parade.
Collings is a unique package of entertainment, loaded with charm, self-assurance and an unflagging optimism about the beauty of living life to the maximum. The late Stu Hamstra said of him, he’s “a true lesson in the real meaning of cabaret.” What makes Collings so enchanting is his complete honesty. He’s known for giving his best shot, “warts and all.” Who wouldn’t love a guy who started out singing to rabbits in the barn of his rural childhood home? Most of all, he is a skilled storyteller in song and narrative. Life Is a Song – So Why Not Sing It? will feature exquisite numbers, such as “Love Is Just Around the Corner,” “Canadian Sunset,” I Know a Place,” “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)” and many more.
Ira Lee Collings hails from a small town in Indiana, where he began singing on the radio as a kid. He went to Chicago after graduating high school, studied at the Goodman Theatre, and eventually moved to the Big Apple. After years of performing regionally and off-Broadway, Collings took a quarter century hiatus from show business, lured by the prospect of a steady paycheck. But in retirement the stage beckoned again, and it’s this rich well of experience that drives the engine of Life Is a Song – So Why Not Sing It?, directed by cabaret powerhouse Sally Darling.
Since reclaiming the stage the super-energetic octogenarian hasn’t paused for breath. In addition to his own shows, the 81-year old has appeared in the Metropolitan Room Marathon and Cabaret Cares shows, the 2016 AIDS Day Celebration, and the 15th Annual Long Beach (New York) Cabaret Festival, among others. He’s a MAC Hanson Award winner and placed in the top ten of the Mama’s Next BIG Act! competition at Don’t Tell Mama.
Life Is a Song – So Why Not Sing It? plays at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46 Street, NYC on: Tuesday, September 26, Monday, October 2, and Tuesday, October 29, all at 7:15 PM. There is a $15 cover charge ($10 for MAC members), and a two-drink minimum; cash only. Reservations at 212-757-0788 or online at http://www.donttellmamanyc.com/shows.