Michael Cavanaugh Brings 'Movin' Out' Music to Baltimore
If you've seen the Broadway musical Movin' Out or heard the CD, you know very well how incredibly talented Michael Cavanaugh is interpreting the music of Billy Joel. Do not miss the incredible opportunity to view Tony-nominated Cavanaugh in person at Baltimore's Meyerhoff Symphony Hall backed by the huge and talented Baltimore Symphony Orchestra during the next three days.
When I saw Cavanaugh's performance on Broadway, he was seated at the piano in front of the orchestra high above the amazing choreography of Twyla Tharp. In this performance, Cavanaugh steps out of the shadows and demonstrates that he truly he is a consummate performer.
Let me be clear I was observing a "rehearsal" of the BSO SuperPops rendition titled "The Music of Billy Joel" as part of the "Free Baltimore" promotion. Close to 800 lucky and satisfied patrons, after being served free coffee and pastries, were delighted watching the Baltimore Symphony under the baton of BSO Pops Conductor Jack Everly perform along with Cavanaugh and his talented group of five superb musicians: Johnny Fedevich on drums (encased in a fiberglass cage and known for his performance in the film "Almost Famous"), Giovanni Mastro on guitar, Billy Venditti on bass, Jamie Hosmer on keyboards and acoustic guitar, and the amazing John Scarpella on tenor, alto, soprano sax and percussion (also a veteran from the Broadway production of Movin' Out).
Since it was a morning rehearsal and Cavanaugh was scheduled to perform the same night with the BSO at Strathmore Hall in Bethesda, he apologized in advance that on some occasions he would not be hitting those "high" notes. No one really cared or noticed. In fact, he hit quite a few of those high notes.
The concert is packed with Joel hits starting with the "Movin' Out Overture" ("I Love You Just the Way You Are", "My Life", and "Angry Young Man".
There was funny banter between Everly and Cavanaugh. When Everly asked for more vocals of Cavanaugh on his monitor, Cavanaugh replied, "Be careful what you wish for".
During "Uptown Girl", the audience was encouraged to clap along. Next was the beautiful ballad "She's Got a Way" (during which Everly left the stage and went into the orchestra to hear what it sounded like and when he returned to the podium Cavanaugh joked "Is it something I said?").
It was surprising to hear the Who's "Pinball Wizard" from Tommy but I'm glad it's in the program.
The classic "Italian Restaurant" is worth the price of admission alone. Scarpulla ventured into the audience for his fabulous saxophone solos and the audience loved it. Cavanaugh also requested audience participation for the refrain "na na na ni ni na na".
In "For the Longest Time" Cavanaugh left the piano and followed it with "Tell All About It". This was the only number in which I felt the tempo was too slow.
Joel has written classical compositions and it was great to hear two of them by the Baltimore Symphony: "Waltz No. 1" and "Air (Dublinesque) both pieces done in Movin' Out.
One of the few songs in the Joel lexicon I don't really love is "Pressure" but again Cavanaugh delivers.
Act I ends with the political anthem "Goodnight Saigon". Listen first for the crickets followed by the sound of the helicopter. At intermission, Cavanaugh was seen signing autographs for the many young people in attendance. A bus load came from Broadneck High School.
"My Life" began the second half of the concert followed by "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me". Then it was "In the Middle of the Night".
There was a beautiful saxophone cadenza by Scarpulla during "A New York State of Mind" and again during "Just the Way You Are". Then came the rock anthem "You May Be Right" and finally "I've loved These Days".
The encore? What else - "Piano Man" with Cavanaugh on the harmonica and the piano.
Two songs not performed during the rehearsal were Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" and Cavanaugh's own composition "Miles Away".
After the rehearsal, Cavanaugh, though exhausted, came into the audience for autographs and picture taking.
In a short interview, he commented how he was so happy to have two rehearsals prior to the performance Thursday night. At some venues he stated, "We just show up and then perform and hope for the best." He also was very complimentary to the musicians with the Baltimore Symphony.
There is some talk of recording Cavanaugh's program (which he does with various orchestras) and even the possibility of having PBS record it. Don't wait for this possibility. Do not miss this amazing concert Friday night Oct. 3 at 8 p.m., Saturday night, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, Oct 5 at 3 p.m. After the concert, Cavanaugh will be signing CD's in the lobby.
For tickets, call 410-783-8000 or visit www.bsomusic.org.
Also visit www.michaelcavanaugh.com.
By the way, Movin' Out returns to the Hippodrome Theatre May 8-10, 2009 (800-343-3103).
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