BWW Reviews: Actor/Singer Will Collyer Scores at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal
On Sunday September 29 at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal, Los Angeles theatre actor/singer Will Collyer presented Will Collyer in Concert directed by Mandy Kaplan and with musical direction by Brett Ryback. The 75-minute set featured guest appearances from Kaplan and Melissa Lyons. Collyer is an exceedingly affable 34 year-old openly gay actor who looks more like 19. Cute, drole and consistently mobile, Collyer did a retrospective of his life so far, which included his birth - very amusing segment on the music his mother was listening to in hospital when she gave birth to him - boyhood background, college days, his first kiss with another boy, local musical theatre, and a tribute to his life partner of 14 years... a mixture of banter and songs that he grew up with, some of which he actually performed in shows.
Ryback, always devilish fun, threw in lots of spontaneously witty repartee to enrich Collyer's comments. When Collyer rushed back to the piano to change into his white turtleneck shirt for Snoopy, Ryback did a low-key, irreverent and risque/mild shock commentary on Collyer's stripping naked on stage a la Howard Stern. What a camp!
Highlights of the evening included: opener Jason Robert Brown's "Moving Too Fast" from The Last Five Years and then from Pippin, which was the music he was born to: "Magic To Do" and "Corner of the Sky", for which he dismissed Ryback and accompanied himself at the piano. There was "Any Dream Will Do" from Joseph..., which was a triumph in local theatre for his older brother Tommy, an energetically rampant "Supper Time" from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, a delicious cutting yourself free with Alanis Morrisette's "That I Would Be Good", a duet of "Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop... performed with lovely director Mandy Kaplan. On the day of his graduation, Collyer was in Reprise's production of Hair at the Wadsworth Theatre from which he did a Miscast "Frank Mills" ordinarily sung by a female singer. Following this came a string of post college jobs like at Jamba Juice "Life Sucks" from Bloody Andrew Jackson. Collyer was very lucky to go to work for TV music producer Charles Fox and performed a medley of some of his greatest hits like "Killing Me Softly", "Ready To Take a Chance Again" and "I've Got a Name". He warned of never taking your partner for granted with "All the Wasted Time" from Parade, in duet with Melissa Lyons, who has quite the rich Broadway-style voice. Of course, from last year's hit show Full Monty Collyer donned his macho image of Jerry with "Man". He concluded with the gorgeous "Wind Beneath My Wings" and as encore essayed an original composition "Discovered" from a musical Right Together, Left Together, co-written with Pam Everhart.
Will Collyer and his 14-year partner Colin married in July and so for him, there is much to celebrate. He loves and is loved and does what he loves to do for a living. He really knows how to share that feeling with his audience and would be the perfect choice for a Gay TV variety show. His voice, charisma, authentic sense of comedy and eclectically winning ways all add up to someone quite unique and special. Watch out for Will Collyer!(photo credit: Stan Mazin)
Don hails from Holyoke, Massachusetts and holds two Masters Degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Education and Bilingual Studies. Don is a teacher of foreign language and ESL.
Don is a member of the prestigious Road Theatre Company in NoHo and is in his fifth year with BWW, currently serving as Senior Editor of the Los Angeles Page.
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