BWW Reviews: Actor/Singer Danny Gurwin Offers Dynamite Nostalgic Concert Evening for GLEH
Presented by Upright Cabaret (led by Chris Isaacson) which brings the best of Broadway and pop once a month to GLEH (Gay Lesbian Elder Housing) on Ivar in Hollywood in the form of a charitable concert to raise awareness of GLEH through song.
On November 15 Broadway crooner Danny Gurwin made a special appearance with his dynamic autobiographical night club show, featuring musical direction by John Randall. Handsome and charismatic Gurwin was elated to be performing at GLEH and it showed in spades. He simply gleamed and brought joy to every lyric he sang. Accompanied by the terrific John Randall at the piano, Gurwin's 70-minute set seemed almost too short, although he managed to cover a lot of material within that time, concentrating on the sentimental side of Broadway and pop music over several decades. He defied the definition of the word sentimental as weakly emotional, expressing how much he loves the tenderness of nostalgia.
With a super strong opening of Barry Manilow's "Daybreak", he then proceded to alternate between the older "Sentimental Journey", "My Romance" and "I'm Old-Fashioned" and the newer "Forest from the Trees" from The Spitfire Grill, proving that the message of beautiful ballads is timeless. In fact, he did a whole medley about sailing, starting with Noel Coward's "Sail Away"and including Kurt Weill's "My Ship", to Bobby Darin's "Beyond the Sea" in the 60s and onto Elton John's "Sail Me Away" from his 2006 short-lived musical Lestat. People always need to dream and escape. and the proof is in the music whose lyrics have changed very little over the last 100 years. Defining his love of folk tunes, Gurwin did a magnificent rendition of Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle", one of the genre's greatest hits of all time. Showing how music resonates with the way folks travel, he moved to a delightfully upbeat Cy Coleman tune "When in Rome".
The Broadway segment of the hour was richly put together starting with a seldom heard but lovely Bock and Harnick tune "Worlds Apart" from their 1963 show Man in the Moon and then a hilariously funny "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" - if you don't have any Jews - from Spamalot. From his own career on Broadway which started with The Full Monty, offerings included: a very amusing instruction on how to remove a g-string properly "Let It Go", the beautiful "Storybook" from The Scarlet Pimpernel, an evocatively gorgeous "Strangers in Paradise" from Kismet and two songs from Little Women, in which he originated the role of Laurie in 2005: "Sometime When You Dream" and "Take a Chance on Me".
As he segued into his permanent departure from New York for Los Angeles in 2005 and then from LA to Arizona in 2011 to accept a professorship at the University of Arizona in Tucson, he offered the more contemporary hit, Pink's curiously fun-loving "Glitter in the Air". During this segment he also proudly talked about the difficulties and joys of being a parent of a teenage daughter. He closed with a rousing number often sung by colleague Karen Morrow "I Had a Ball", and as encore Kenny Loggins' charmer "Return to Pooh Corner" from 1972.
It is obvious that Danny Gurwin is addicted to nostalgia and so am I. Some of the greatest music of all time emanates from the archives of the past, and it is fantastic that a singer wants to keep it all alive from the 30s on up. Akin to his material, Danny Gurwin is charming with a thoroughly outstanding voice and charisma. Don't miss this act, if and when he brings it back!