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BWW Review: MOVING ON: SONGS OF JOURNEY. Mark Corpron Lays Out The Rules of the Road at Don't Tell Mama

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Mark Corpron Plays Don't Tell Mama Sep.18, Oct. 10 & Nov.14

BWW Review: MOVING ON: SONGS OF JOURNEY. Mark Corpron Lays Out The Rules of the Road at Don't Tell Mama

The joy and terror of doing cabaret entertainment is that it is amazingly confessional. There are no characters to hide behind. Only music, a performer, and his experiences. The vulnerability is exponentially compounded when the show you set out to do tells the story of your life. It is an extremely courageous thing to do. That is the task that Mark Corpron sets for himself in his show MOVING ON: SONGS OF JOURNEY, which opened last night at Don't Tell Mama. The show sets out to explore not the destinations we arrive at in life, but rather the journeys that happen in between those destinations. It focuses on a soul with a permanent case of wanderlust and the loneliness that often accompanies such globe-trotting adventures.

Mark Corpron is a charming and engaging performer, possessed of a very fine instrument. Listening to him sing is a joy. His style is laid-back crooning. He has exquisite taste in music and a particular feel for swing tunes. He expertly handled a program filled with Jimmy Webb, Sammy Cahn, Peggy Lee, Cy Coleman, Henry Mancini, and John Bucchino. His musical phrasing is excellent and he really gets to the heart of these fine composers. And yet there's something in his show that feels slightly amiss. It's in the storytelling. More about that later, but first the music.

He opened with an upbeat rendition of Jimmy Webb's "Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon." It's a great way to start a show about journeying. He followed this up with what may be the ultimate Sinatra tune, "Come Fly With Me." He talked about feeling displaced in the small Ohio town he came from and his sense of wonder when his father took him on a trip to the bustling city of Chicago. This was a lead-in for the Petula Clark hit "Downtown." I particularly loved the arrangement of this tune. This led into a section about his desire to live in New York and beyond. He gave us beautiful arrangements of Margaret Whiting's "Faraway Places," Henry Mancini's "Two for the Road" and Peggy Lee's "You Came a Long Way from Saint Louis."

His travels did take him to New York and beyond, including a stint living in Saudi Arabia. He detailed the loneliness of that experience in a duet with musical director, Jacob Khalil of Leonard Bernstein's "Ohio" from Wonderful Town. He seemed particularly connected to John Bucchino's wonderful "Sweet Dreams," really diving into the bittersweet story of two lost souls navigating the Hollywood jungle. He gave us two fantastic Cy Coleman tunes, "The Rules of the Road" and "When in Rome (I Do As The Romans Do.)

The highlight of the evening was a touching performance of Janis Ian's sensitive "Jessie." This felt like a story about a failed love affair that unfortunately neither Corpron nor his director, Elena Bennett fleshed out. That leads me to the storytelling issue I mentioned earlier. In a show that set itself up to be a life story, in many ways I felt I left the evening knowing very little about Mark Corpron himself. He laid out the facts of his life and his timeline very well. What was missing was the commentary, how he felt about those adventures. In an autobiographical show such as this, the strict narrative is less important than the impact of the events. I kept waiting for a catharsis that never arrived. It's not a fatal flaw. It really only exists in the banter of the show. This version of the show feels like a work in progress. I would be excited to see a later version of this show.

Corpron was beautifully supported by an awesome band led by musical director, Jacob Khalil. There was wonderful solo work by Sean Murphy on bass and Eric Loffswold on a battery of reed instruments. They were prominently featured in the show's finale, "Come Back to Me" from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. I also loved their encore, "I Love Being Here With You. In my humble opinion, it should not be an encore but should be the permanent finale of the show as it is a perfect end to a story arc. I enjoyed Mark Corpron very much. His voice is warm and lived in. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

BWW Review: MOVING ON: SONGS OF JOURNEY. Mark Corpron Lays Out The Rules of the Road at Don't Tell Mama

For more information on Mark Corpron follow him @markcorpron on Twitter. Mark Corpron: MOVING ON performs again at Don't Tell Mama on October 10 and again on November 14. For reservations and more great shows at Don't Tell Mama, visit donttellmamanyc.com


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