Eric Michael Gillett: Man About Town: The Wit and Wisdom of Noël Coward

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Eric Michael Gillett

Man About Town: The Wit and Wisdom of Noël Coward

Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYC, October 10, 2014

Reviewed by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes

Eric-Michael-Gillette-Man-About-Town-The-Wit-and_Wisdo-of-Noel-Coward-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212“I went to a marvelous party!…I couldn’t have liked it more!” So wrote Noël Coward in one of his hundreds of songs. And so in spirit responded the audience at Eric Michael Gillett’s highly entertaining new show, Man About Town: The Wit and Wisdom of Noël Coward, debuting in early October at the Laurie Beechman Theatre.

Solo at center stage, dapper in formal wear, melding his formidable singing and acting talents, Eric Michael — singing with impeccable diction, plus a touch of British accent to remind us of the author’s heritage — illuminated Coward’s songs: the sly humor in many, the uproarious music-hall fun in others, and the sweetness and sentiment of still others.

Eric Michael, in crisp style, gave the numbers a freshness and clarity that made you feel you were hearing them anew. The songs, reflecting Coward’s varying styles, were, in turn, witty and moving. Among the former were such comic pieces as “(Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage) Mrs. Worthington,” “Nina” (you know, from Argentina), “Why Must the Show Go On?” and “Why Do the Wrong People Travel?.” More serious numbers included the ever-sweet “A Room with a View,” the survival-spirited song of a war, “London Pride,” and the moving “If Love Were All.”

Two changes of pace within the show were Eric Michael’s romp with Musical Director Rick Jensen, “Men About Town,” and a guest solo by Cookie Stark, with her moving and smoky voice, singing Coward’s poignant “Sail Away.” Fine and subtle musical aid throughout were provided by Matt Scharfglass on bass and Jonathan Kantor on reeds.

Man About Town reprises over three upcoming Mondays: October 20 and 27 and November 3 at the Beechman.

Peter Haas

Writer, editor, lyricist and banjo plunker, Peter Haas has been contributing features and performance reviews for Cabaret Scenes since the magazine’s infancy. As a young folk-singer, he co-starred on Channel 13’s first children’s series, Once Upon a Day; wrote scripts, lyrics and performed on Pickwick Records’ children’s albums, and co-starred on the folk album, All Day Singing. In a corporate career, Peter managed editorial functions for CBS Records and McGraw-Hill, and today writes for a stable of business magazines. An ASCAP Award-winning lyricist, his work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Feinstein’s, Metropolitan Room and other fine saloons.