For years, friends of Michael McKean and Annette O'Toole have known that the couple is apt to pick up instruments and break into song when things get festive and parties heat up around their house. Now, the pair is taking their act uptown with a two-week stint at the tony New York nightclub Feinstein's at the Regency, where from May 24 through June 4, 2005, McKean and O'Toole will be performing a show they've dubbed "An Evening with Michael McKean & Annette O'Toole: No Standards." "These shows," promises McKean, "will be like coming to our home for a party." Adds O'Toole, "Except that we'll be wearing makeup."
Married since March, 1999, McKean and O'Toole have in recent years made room for songwriting in schedules that were already jammed. McKean (a multi-talented actor, comic, writer, director and musician who might be best known as Lenny on Laverne & Shirley and as David St. Hubbins in Spinal Tap) has recently appeared on the New York stage in the world premiere of Woody Allen's A Second-Hand Memory and as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. O'Toole (a former dancer whose varied resume ranges from Smile and 48 Hrs. to The Kennedys of Massachusetts and Nash Bridges) has since 2001 played young Clark Kent's mother Martha in the WB series Smallville. Though they are frequently on opposite sides of the country, the pair have collaborated on numerous songs since late 2001. Three of their compositions were featured in the 2003 Christopher Guest comedy A Mighty Wind, including the Oscar®-nominated ballad "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow." (McKean contributed an additional seven songs to the project, including the Grammy-winning title track.)
The Feinstein's engagement was spurred by a fundraising show Michael and Annette participated in for Planned Parenthood. On a bill with the likes of Moby, Lou Reed and Joan Osborne, they performed a couple of songs accompanied by Annette's daughter, Nell Geisslinger, an actress, dancer and musician who has spent the past three years working with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. "We weren't going after this gig or even thinking about doing a nightclub show," says O'Toole. "But the morning after the benefit we got a call saying that somebody from Feinstein's had been at the show, and they wanted us to do two weeks there. Their only condition was that Nell had to do it with us."
At Feinstein's, Geisslinger will be supplying, in Annette' words, "piano, guitar, vocals, beauty and exuberance." The repertoire will include songs from A Mighty Wind, the occasional Spinal Tap ditty ("the gentler side of the canon," promises Michael), songs from a full-fledged musical that the pair has been writing for a few years, a cover or two, and other "unusual, unclassifiable stuff," according to McKean.
"The show is still taking shape, but it's nice to have Feinstein's as a peg where we can hang all this work of ours," says Michael. "I feel as if this show has just grown out of what we naturally do, even when there's no one looking."
"We're songwriters," adds Annette with a laugh. "And by now we have so much stuff that the hardest part is picking what to put in and what to leave out."
Still, the pair expects a freewheeling evening designed for open-minded patrons who aren't expecting the usual Manhattan cabaret act. "I'd like to hope that our audience is ready for some surprises," says Michael of two weeks that may bring songs like "Potato's In the Paddy Wagon" and "Banjo Daddy" to a room accustomed to hosting more sedate excursions through the Great American Songbook. "If nothing else," he says, "I think we'll be the first act to play Feinstein's without singing 'New York, New York.'"
FEINSTEIN'S AT THE REGENCY will play the following schedule:
Tuesday through Saturday at 8:30 PM with late shows on Friday and Saturday at 11:00 PM.
All shows have a $60 cover and a $40 minimum.
Jackets are suggested but not required.
FEINSTEIN'S AT THE REGENCY is located at 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street in New York City.
For Ticket reservations and club information call (212) 339-4095, or log on to TicketWeb.com.