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Review: Eric Michael Gillett JUMP/CUT Raises The Bar For Virtual Cabaret Standards

Filmed in real-time JUMP/CUT shows all the reasons Eric Michael Gillett has the respect he does.

Review: Eric Michael Gillett JUMP/CUT Raises The Bar For Virtual Cabaret Standards

About twenty minutes into the MetropolitanZoom show JUMP/CUT my husband walked into our home office and asked what I was watching. I paused the film (that I was not seeing in real-time) and said to him, "The MOST wonderful cabaret act by Eric Michael Gillett." When Pat asked me what made it so, I told him that the nightclub act played, on film, like one of those theater pieces I used to watch on PBS or HBO, where the theatricality of a live show is intact, even though it's a film and there is no applause. He said to me, "Like 'The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe'?" and I cried out, "Yes! It's like Lenny Bruce-cum-Lily Tomlin with Sammy Davis Jr. mixed in for the musical numbers." Furthermore, I told my beloved, the film should be seen by everyone who wants to do cabaret because it is a perfect blueprint, really a master class in the art from. Pat proudly replied, "Well, he's a teacher. That's what Eric Michael Gillett does - teaches people how to sing and act and do cabaret"

I knew that. It was nice to hear my husband, an actor and not a club person, talk about the people in my world - it made us feel (even more) connected, and I appreciated it. But I already knew that about Eric Michael Gillett; it isn't entirely true, though, because EMG is not just any one thing. Eric Michael Gillett is a teacher, an entertainer, a writer, a philosopher, a fund raiser, a friend, a mentor, a leader. Eric Michael Gillett is a true multi-hyphenate... and many of the roles that define him are glimmeringly present in this film that played MetropolitanZoom recently. I've enjoyed two MetropolitanZoom shows and it's a swell experience, watching a performer do their thing, alongside seventy-odd other people watching from home while having dinner, drinking wine, even dancing in the living room. I saw JUMP/CUT, though, after it aired, courtesy of a private YouTube link, and for this particular show, I was much happier being alone - just Eric Michael and me. Oh, I knew there were other people there - he played to the audience in the Zoom Room beautifully, giving them his attention and his artistry, and what fun for all of them. I was content, though, just watching this performance like one of those filmed theater shows for PBS because this is a piece of theater.

I don't want to give away a lot about Jump/Cut because I believe it has a future life, whether EMG brings the show into the clubs, back to MetropolitanZoom, or to a DVD or streaming service (and trust me, the film that I watched is well suited to distribution) and I think future audiences should be given the permission and pleasure of seeing Gillett's story unfold in real-time. What a killjoy I would be if I took that away from those audience members by giving it all away. I feel safe offering these morsels to whet the appetite: Jump/Cut is Mr. Gillett's musical musing on the year of living in quarantine, the effects of the pandemic on the heart and the soul, the lessons learned (big ones), the moments missed (both simple and grand) and the view of the future from where he stands. Gillett works from a spectacularly constructed script that overflows with rhetoric replete of pathos and brimming with banter; segues smooth as silk lead from monology to music, and at no time is he self-conscious or coy about the silence after each song. Gillett adapts with radiant ease to the medium, never once depriving the at-home audience of his bodacious belt, but always avoiding grandiosity that overpowers a small-screen performance. In the marriage of two mediums, Eric Michael Gillett is a masterful officiant who knows precisely how much practice is required to make onstage oratory appear spontaneous.

Using his own monologues and the musical ones provided by the likes of The Gershwins, Jerry Herman, Tim Minchin, and Dar Williams, EMG weaves his way through a wonderful forest of storytelling and stories that reflect a life that goes beyond the covid-coaster (to borrow a term from Rosemary Loar) and into the territory of everyday emotions. Honestly surprising, I found myself connecting with greater force to Gillett's performances of modern-day songwriters like Demi Lovato, Minchin, and Williams than I did to the classic works that would seem a more natural fit for Mr. Gillett's aesthetic, though his affinity for Craig Carnelia is definitely a boon to the show - clearly EMG can sing any genre and any era. Particularly impressive is Eric Michael's trip to Jacques Brel-land, one that left me breathless, and all I did was sip tea and watch his marathon on my monitor. Everything in Jump/Cut, from the Brel to the Bricusse, from the fun to the frustration, plays a part in making this film one of the most rewarding virtual cabaret acts I've seen in the last year - and I'll tell you something else:

If Eric Michael Gillett continues teaching, if he continues performing, if he continues sharing the wealth of wisdom that he has amassed - in any format - the lucky people who witness what he has to share will walk away from the experience better. If those people are civilians, they will learn something philosophical, they will feel something legitimate, they will be drawn in by a storyteller built to bring them to a place where reality and imagination meet. And if those people watching are students of the art of entertainment, they will, better, understand their craft, the importance of honesty in their work, and how a perfect balance of technique and authenticity can make a club act something memorable.

If Eric Michael Gillett continues teaching (in all the ways he does), the future of cabaret is safe and sound.

Visit the Eric Michael Gillett website HERE.

Visit the MetropolitanZoom website HERE.

Review: Eric Michael Gillett JUMP/CUT Raises The Bar For Virtual Cabaret Standards



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