Review–Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. in “Up, Up and Away, a Musical Fable,” Theater at Westbury, Long Island, June 9, 2016
by Robert-Allan Arno
This is the type of “review” which can be deemed as subjective and objective. Not only am I the biographer of The Original 5th Dimension and its founder, LaMonte McLemore, but the Theater at Westbury, once known as Westbury Music Fair, was sacred home for the many times I had seen the original quintet perform while I grew up on Long Island. And so as the evening’s overture played, I sighed, “Now, this is full-circle!” then wondered quickly, “Has the beautiful balloon finally landed?” About the latter, no possible way. If anything, it soars higher than ever. Marilyn McCoo remains as gorgeous as her legendary octaves do; Billy Davis, Jr. is our true Gentleman of Soul. Their Broadway-like presentation, “Up, Up and Away, A Musical Fable” (which I keep accidentally calling “a musical fantasy!”) is a revelation even for someone like myself. And by the way, “fantasy” fits this bill, you have to keep pinching yourself that what you’re seeing and hearing is a reality. That McCoo-Davis individually collective sound, the moves, the back-up singers, the top-flight band (led by Darrell Alston) are all so exquisitely pristine yet astute that we get to see the movies of our minds…live!