Dierdre Moncy & Tom Kiesche: Broadway 1950s: The Golden Years

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Dierdre Moncy and Tom Kiesche

Broadway 1950s: The Golden Years

Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA,  June 2, 2016

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes

Dierdre-Moncy_Tom-Kiesche -Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212For aficionados of classic musical comedy — and anyone with a desire to know what made it the art form it is — the cabaret show created by Deirdre Moncy and Tom Kiesche saluting Broadway songs from the 1950s was one of the most enjoyable evenings imaginable. With hundreds of great songs to choose from, they selected all or parts of roughly 35, which they sang separately and together (including “Together,” from Gypsy) and charmed an audience of fans for a solid 75 minutes with never a dull moment.

Aside from the sheer pleasure of hearing so many great songs, there was the added pleasure of an amiable rapport between the performers — they actually looked at each other when they sang together and related to each other and teased each other, all in a relaxed and very natural way.

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The show was well-crafted, grouping songs mostly by theme — none more cleverly than the “Maria” medley, which consisted of “Maria” from West Side, Story, the same-titled piece whose chorus begins, “How do you Solve a problem like Maria?” (from The Sound of Music) and, quite brilliantly, Paint Your Wagon’s “They Call the Wind Maria,” with Kiesche initially pronouncing the name of the wind like the female characters in the other two shows [instead of how it is intended for that number. pronounced Ma-rye-uh] in what was ultimately a strong, dynamic performance.

Kiesche showed off his softer, more tender side in a thoughtfully hushed version of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” (My Fair Lady) and a beautiful performance of “I Love Paris” (from Can-Can). He was alternately tough and tender on “Luck Be a Lady” (Guys and Dolls).

Moncy was mesmerizing in a light and airy take on “Hello, Young Lovers” and a gorgeous version — is there really any other kind?

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— of “Something Wonderful” (both from The King and I). She was sassy and brassy as she flirted with the audience on “Let Me Entertain You” (Gypsy), and amusing on “Nobody’s Chasing Me” (Out of This World).

Their chemistry was very effective on duets: a surprising mashup of her “Lazy Afternoon” (The Golden Apple) with his “If I Had My Druthers” (Li’l Abner); an interactive “Till There Was You” (The Music Man); and a delightful “Happy to Make Your Acquaintance” (The Most Happy Fella), where her pleasure was balanced by his cynical reaction to some of her lyrics.

Kiesche also used his superb acting chops to look stunned and mesmerized while Moncy purred “Whatever Lola Wants” (Damn Yankees) at him and, separately, came off abashed and scared in a great performance by both singers on the adorable “But Yours” (Take Me Along), with Kiesche commenting how special it felt to do a song originally sung by Jackie Gleason.

To close the show, Kiesche sang and played the ukulele for “Edelweiss,” followed by a duet on “Do-Re-Mi (both from The Sound of Music), with the audience asked to sing along on both.  Keeping up with both singers throughout the evening was Michael Collum on piano.

The only downside to the glorious evening was the decision for Moncy to sing pure harmony on almost everything the two sang together, which was exacerbated by the uneven sound system that had her volume so high that the harmony often drowned out the melody Kiesche was singing.

Elliot Zwiebach

Elliot Zwiebach loves the music of The Great American Songbook and classic Broadway, with a special affinity for Rodgers and Hammerstein. He's been a professional writer for 45 years and a cabaret reviewer for five. Based in Los Angeles, Zwiebach has been exposed to some of the most talented performers in cabaret—the famous and the not-so-famous—and enjoys it all. Reviewing cabaret has even pushed him into doing some singing of his own — a very fun and liberating experience that gives him a connection with the performers he reviews.