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Review: BOB O'HARE - IT'S A NEW WORLD - A GREAT SONG COLLECTION at MetropolitanZoom

Celebrating Ira Gershwin at Studio A

Review: BOB O'HARE - IT'S A NEW WORLD - A GREAT SONG COLLECTION at MetropolitanZoom

With able support from musical director/pianist Tom Nelson, bassist Tom Kirchmer, and drummer Peter Grant, Bob O'Hare delivered a wonderful collection of songs featuring the lyrics of Ira Gershwin, written for a number of composers. The quality and popularity of Ira Gershwin's lyrics resulted in his writing songs with many of the top composers of his day. Included in this show are Ira Gershwin's lyrics to the music of Kurt Weill, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, and Vernon Duke, as well as his brother George.

The song list included up-tempo and sometimes comical material, as well as romantic and heartbreaking ballads. Given the time periods in which these songs were written, many of them have introductions-and O'Hare sings a bunch of these introductions (which very few singers seem to do nowadays).

The show's most memorable songs included:

  • "I Got Rhythm," "Stairway to Paradise," and "By Strauss" - all ultimately included in An American in Paris
  • "Tchaikovsky" - a tongue-twister made famous by Danny Kaye
  • "My Ship" - a beautiful lyric to beautiful Kurt Weill music
  • "I Can't Get Started" - from Ziegfeld Follies of 1936
  • "But Not for Me" - from the 1930 musical Girl Crazy

O'Hare introduces himself early on as an attorney, so I don't fault him for not having as smooth a voice as Vic Damone or Bing Crosby. And I don't fault him for not being as strong an interpreter of lyrics as Mandy Patinkin or Brian Stokes Mitchell. And sometimes in his upper register, he gets a little "belty," as if he couldn't make the high notes at a lower volume.

BUT - and I believe this is very important - the fact is that O'Hare appears to be having a wonderful time singing for us. I got the feeling that every song on the bill was there because he loves the song and loves singing it. For me, his enjoyment was so contagious that I was easily able to overlook any negative thoughts I might have pointed out in the previous paragraph.

As for the show's concept - I have seen/heard enough evenings of one particular composer's work. With some composers (i.e. Sondheim), the material has great variety; with others, not so much. So I was very interested - and ultimately very pleased - to see that O'Hare's concept was to follow the lyricist. And since Ira Gershwin wrote lyrics for the music of at least seven wonderful composers, he was an ideal choice for such a concept.

In a cabaret set-up - whether the show is virtual or live - nothing communicates to an audience faster than whether or not the performer wants to be performing that material for this particular audience. And on that basis, my opinion is that Bob O'Hare hit one out of the park.

BOTTOM LINE - I would happily listen to this performer sing this same program again.

ASIDE - In my years running a revue company for an Austin theatre, I toyed with the idea of developing an evening of the material of Comden & Green, who also wrote for at least a half-dozen wonderful composers. Maybe O'Hare would consider this as his next assignment.


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