BWW Review: Homewood Theatre Brings a Classy Night of Cabaret with BILL BUGG AND FRIENDS: SONGS FROM THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK
Homewood Theatre has put up an entertaining night of musical cabaret, Bill Bugg and Friends: Songs from the Great American Songbook is a great throwback to the intimate piano bar shows that showcase hot numbers and cool singers.
Bill Bugg is the emcee and headliner for the performance. He moves the show along smoothly with comedy and charm. He has great rapport with the other singers in the show. Though at times he frequently reminds them of exactly whose name is on the shows marquee. Bugg is a charming emcee bringing a voice bellowing with character. His previous shows are "A Little Night Music," "South Pacific," "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Camelot". He is sharing the stage with some top tier Birmingham entertainers Kristi Tingle-Higginbotham, Jan Hunter, Dana Porter, Stan Nelson, Clint Pridgen, and Kyle Bass. If I were to individually list the stage credits of these talented performers it would a long one. Collectively these pros bring decades of work on the stage including performing on the stages in Birmingham, Broadway and the opera. This is a strong ensemble of professional entertainers who reside in Birmingham
The selections from this "Great American Songbook" make up an energetic and diverse set list. I was happily surprised to be treated to songs going from Cole Porter to the smash hit Hamilton. Some of the numbers stood out more than the others. Tingle-Higginbotham shows why recently sold out performances in Gypsy when she brings the house down in "Rain or Shine". Hunter gets laughs performing the sassy lament of who my grandmother would describe as a "fast woman" in the song "Everybody's Girl". Dana Porter sings the hilarious "Alto's Lament", a number about being stuck singing only the back up parts in a medley of hit Broadway songs. Bugg brings much personal stage presence to Tony Bennett's "Once Upon a Time". Nelson and Pridgen give an emotional rendition of "Dear Theodosia" without having to spend thousands of dollars for a Hamilton ticket.
The polished and swinging band is made up of pianist John Allen Bankson, Pete Banish on bass and Chris Byans on drums. The evening suffered with some technical sound issues. This did not pose an issue for any of the performers for they are skilled at vocal projection. They had mics but they could of easily performed without them. The performance space is beautifully done up to resemble a classy 1940's restaurant or nightclub. A few tables are set around the edge of the stage and next to the band. Due to my age I can only imagine, but it felt like was like in those classic piano clubs of yesteryear.
Bill Bugg appears on stage with this collection of exceptional talent for a very limited time. Make plans to go before the curtain drops on this entertaining night of song and memories.
Homewood Theatre Presents
Bill Bugg and Friends: Songs from the Great American Songbook
Starring Bill Bugg, Kristi Tingle-Higginbotham, Jan Hunter, Dana Porter, Stan Nelson, Clint Pridgen, and Kyle Bass
Homewood Theatre at The Dance Foundation
1715 27th Court South Homewood, AL 35209
August 24 - 26 / 7:30pm / Tickets $15
For tickets: visit homewoodtheatre.com or call (205) 873-1816