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Review: Jeremy Stolle Brings the Laughs During NO MORE TALK OF DARKNESS at Birdland Theater

A two-night show by Jeremy Stolle

Review: Jeremy Stolle Brings the Laughs During NO MORE TALK OF DARKNESS at Birdland Theater

Jeremy Stolle was on a stage filled with talented performers including Elizabeth Welch and Arri Lawton Simon, yet he still shone as the star of the show. Exuding charisma, talent, and a healthy sense of humor, Stolle cast a spell over the audience at Birdland Theater during "No More Talk of Darkness."

After an opening number in which Stolle showcased multiple vocal stylings in a tongue-in-cheek song about the show itself, he moved on to a rousing tale where he sang that, "I play the French guy, always the French guy." Stolle recounted several of his roles, including Gaston in "Beauty and the Beast" and the Phantom, and gently poked fun at his own career and the fact that he keeps getting roles where he plays, well, the French guy. He also pointed out that he's often the villain, and implored the audience to treat him as such throughout the night, booing and hissing anytime his name was announced. The audience played along almost too well, and up until the final song Stolle's name was accompanied by jeers. It was clearly all in good fun, as, all through the performance, the crowd downstairs at Birdland Theater laughed and cheered and made their enjoyment so clear.

And enjoyable, it was. There were many moments throughout the show that I found myself wishing I could have brought along every one of my friends to share in the experience. It was a rollicking good time, the kind of show that reminds you just how good cabaret is. Equal parts opportunity to showcase the singing abilities of Stolle and his co-performers, and a chance for them to cut loose and have some fun on stage, the show was both a stunning display of talent and a hilarious night out. Stolle proved himself to be a natural entertainer - he clearly had a plan, but even when things went awry (such as when he forgot to plug in his guitar at the beginning of one song), he played it off and it ended up being so much better than if everything had gone smoothly.

The show is fast-paced and filled with movement, as Stolle often left the stage to allow the rest of the crew to shine - Welch and Simon both had solo acts, as did his musical director - and the band also had an opportunity to have their moment in the spotlight without any vocalists during a jaunty performance.

One of the most entertaining numbers came after Stolle chatted about his childhood in a "country town in California" where he started off playing football before joining choir to meet girls. The song was "a little bit country, a little bit musical theater, a little bit me" Stolle said, introducing the original number, which poked fun at himself and musical theater in general. Consisting of a medley of some of the greatest musical theater hits, it was a crowd-pleaser, a truly hilarious song that brought joy and levity to an already joyous night. Another popular song was a rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" arranged to harken back to Fleetwood Mac's style, a beautiful duet between Stolle and Welch, who showed off their impressive singing as well as their sparkling chemistry on stage.

At another point during the night, Stolle shared about life as an understudy in "Phantom of the Opera." It was mostly a funny story that also struck a note of sorrow, as Stolle acknowledged the date Mar. 12, 2020, and how Broadway was shut down. "I can do other jobs," he says, "But what I am is a singer...without a song." It was a moving and sad moment amongst the fun of the night, and it also gave Stolle a moment to truly wow the audience with his singing.

After thunderous requests for an encore, Stolle and the rest of his performers indulged the audience with a sing-along version of Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places." The song gave voice to an overwhelming feeling of celebration - we've been through hard times over the past year and a half, but Broadway is back, and dammit if we're not going to have a blast now.

The No More Talk of Darkness band is Jeff Cox on piano, Arri Lawton Simon on piano/clarinet/vocals, Steve Millhouse on bass, Tristan Marzeski on drums, Eli Zoller on lead guitar/vocals, Suzy Perelman on violin, Elizabeth Welch on soprano and Jeremy Stolle on guitar and vocals.

Jeremy Stolle NO MORE TALK OF DARKNESS has another show tonight at 8:30 pm. For information and tickets visit the Birdland website HERE.

Jeremy Stolle's website is HERE.


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