Joanie Winter & John Eskola: Let’s Duet

| August 10, 2017

Joanie Winter & John Eskola

Let’s Duet

Skokie Theatre, Skokie, IL, July 15, 2017

Reviewed by Carla Gordon for Cabaret Scenes

John Eskola & Joanie Winter

In a show that puts the capital “E” in Entertaining, Joanie Winter and John Eskola dance, romp, sing with aplomb, and reach their audience with laughter, heart, and their wonderful chemistry in Let’s Duet. They sing beautifully and Winter has grown at honoring lyrics as much as big notes. The “Sugar” medley gives the duo the chance to sail through a high-octane delivery of rock and pop songs ranging from “Sugartime” to “Sugar, Sugar.” They have big fun clowning through “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life.” Both Winter and Eskola have the timing to carry off comedy numbers with that old-timey vaudeville feel, but Eskola, in particular, excels at goofball physicality.

Among the reasons why Let’s Duet is so entertaining is its entire team. Musical director Patricia Rusk provided interesting arrangements. She took to the piano to deliver the complex musical layers of “Rhapsody in Blue,” only to be joined by the singers who delivered the lyrics that she had written to the melody. The lyrics are about how the “Rhapsody in Blue” muzak that greets passengers in the neon-lit lower level at O’Hare Airport’s United Terminal touch on how the airport rendition doesn’t do justice to Gershwin’s masterpiece. Winter and Eskola land the jokes just right. The pair also captures tenderness in reflective deliveries of “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” and their simple and inspiring rendition of Manilow’s “One Voice.” Kudos also to Let’s Duet’s director/choreographer Ronna Kaye whose dance numbers energized the show. She got the petite Winter and the lanky Eskola to remind us of Fred and Ginger—only our duo is funnier.

Let’s Duet has legs and will be seen by many more audiences. As they present future offerings, they may wish to consider making the show a little shorter. In a sense, it seems to have multiple endings. That said, Winter’s over-the-top rendition of “I Could Have Sung All Night” is a downright hoot.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, Chicago, Chicago Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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