BWW Reviews: Bayou City Concert Musical's CHEEK TO CHEEK: IRVING BERLIN IN THE 1930s is Spirited Entertainment
Just as exciting as the annual summer concert presentation of a more-or-less forgotten hit musical from yesteryear are Bayou City Concert Musicals' fundraising cabaret performances. Kicking off their 2014 season, Paul Hope has programmed an evening of Irving Berlin's hit songs for the 1930s. In this set, titled CHEEK TO CHEEK: IRVING BERLIN IN THE 1930s, there are numerous favorites that left audiences tittering excitedly from the time they took their seats until the program ended.
Like all of these cabarets, Paul Hope, as Master of Ceremonies, shares fabulous morsels of information about the life of the composer, the original performers, and gives intriguing insight into the history of the individual songs. Paul Hope's knowledge and wit pair together excellently, creating an evening filled with our favorite songs and juicy morsels of Hollywood and Broadway back-story.
Serving as Musical Director, Heather Tipsword accompanies each vocalist on the piano. Her fingers dance across the keys to give each performer a lush landscape to sing against. Moreover, she has coached the cast well to deliver each song with beautiful and affecting integrity.
As usual, Paul Hope has expertly cast the cabaret, guaranteeing that every performance is something special and something audiences will absolutely love. For Monday night's performance, Houston area favorites Grace Givens, Danica Dawn Johnston, Paul Hope, Tamara Siler, Beth Lazarou, Dylan Godwin, Susan Draper, Zachary Bryant, Susan Shofner, and Janet Berzins all lent their skilled voices to the evening. Each one sang with rousing spirit and admirable clarity, ensuring that the audience enjoyed each and every performance. Unfortunately, due to illnesses or scheduling conflicts, we missed out on performances by Cole Ryden, Joe Kirkendall, and Jessica Janes; however, as each of these performers have shown time and time again, those lucky enough to see them at the remaining cabarets are sure to love their performances as well.
My favorite performances from Monday night include Zachary Bryants' energetic take on "Top Hat," Beth Lazarou's charming rendition of "Get Thee Behind Me," Grace Givens lovely version of "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm," Danica Dawn Johnston's ebullient and light-hearted performance of "I'd Rather Lead a Band," and Tamara Siler's showstopping and emotionally riveting rendition of "Suppertime."
If you missed CHEEK TO CHEEK: IRVING BERLIN IN THE 1930s last Monday, be sure to catch it on Monday, February 10 or Monday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Performance Centre at The Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main Street (entrance at Fannin & Berry), Houston, 77002. For tickets and more information, please visit http://bayoucityconcertmusicals.com or call (713) 465-6484.
Image courtesy of Bayou City Concert Musicals.