BWW Review: HALF AN EVENING WITH DAVID RASCHE at Feinstein's/54 Below Is A Full Evening's Entertainment
Heigh-Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
Well, my dear ones, Feinstein's 54 Below was all a-titter and a-twitter with laughter, and lots of it, at Wednesday night's HALF AN EVENING WITH David Rasche. The VETERAN actor (a term he said means show business has been shooting at him for decades) entered to the announcer mispronouncing his name a few times (it is pronounced RAH-shee BTW), setting him up for his first few humorous lines that then stretched throughout his entire set - a set, mind you, consisting of all original songs by one of entertainment's most dependable supporting players. Known especially for his comedic abilities, Rasche cut his goofy teeth on stage at Chicago's Second City with the likes of John Candy, Gilda, Bill Murray, and John Belushi. This intense comic training and improv mastery allowed the man to hold forth between songs with a self-described, untreated ADD-like patter that was quick and razor-sharp. There were few pauses and even fewer "Uhhs or Umms" in Rache's raconteur-ism, and it was incumbent upon all in the crowd to keep up or shut up as he rapid-fired his stories, long-form rants, and one-liners about life, family and the vicissitudes (what?! Bobby knows words!) of a 40+ year career in the business of show.
All the humor aside, Mr. Rasche's talents as a composer and singer - talents this rainbow writer had NO idea he possessed until Wednesday night - were wonderfully showcased throughout his 15-ish song cycle. One might have even described it as a Spin Cycle, given the composer's quick pivots from song to song and from style to style, showing the breadth of musicality and character nuance of a fine performing composer. Most of his compositions were of an uproariously funny nature, starting with his opening opus to his favorite sport, GOLF, a sport "...with no physical requirement, and you can play it before and after retirement." With lyrics such as these, one might've expected a full evening of music reminiscent of Tom Lehrer or Mark Russell (look em up,) but David's ability to make music of varying genres coupled with his acting chops meant the evening would be anything but predictable. Putting his audience through their laughing paces with his actor prison chain gang ode NEVER GONNA WORK AGAIN, sung in a slow bluesy, bluegrass, countrified rhythm, with hick-from-the-sticks accent to boot, and then sticking it to the crowd with THIS OLD BODY, a true, snappy, jazz paean to going from the sexual possibilities of, "You never know" to "Highly unlikely."The real surprises of the evening, though, were Rasche's non-comedic works that were alternately touching, poignant, and even a little sad at times. His love song TURN ON THE STARS, his ballad tribute to his adopted home state ILLINOIS, and the obligatory seasonal song CHRISTMAS IN LA, showed a softer and heartfelt side to the man's machine-gun patter and comic tone poems. Late in the program, Mr. R. was joined by the fabulously gorgeous and immensely talented Amber Iman (of Shuffle Along & Hamilton Nat'l Tour) whose rendition of his Jazz/Blues LOVE IS A GAME YOU LOSE simultaneously raised the roof and brought the house down. Iman is a talent to watch for, as her voice mixes sultry with powerful in a unique star quality all her own, and this particular song seemed to be tailor-made for her. The truth is, for the last 40 odd years, David Rasche has been what one could call a great American actor. Through those years he has made 7 trips to broadway, 13 to Off-Broadway and has over 125 acting credits on his IMDb page, which are almost evenly split between television and feature films. That ain't hay my dears... that ain't hay, and now to discover there's even more gold within this golden-haired mine was a treat we loved experiencing. For now, Rasche has just Wednesday night's booking on 54's calendar, but take Bobby's word my pets, keep an eye out for more dates to see and hear this wonderful artist's music. It will be well worth your time and money because Bobby gives HALF AN EVENING WITH David Rasche the full 5 out of 5 rainbows.
*All photos by yours truly, Bobby Patrick DARLINGS! (Who Else?)