Peisha McPhee & Sergiu Tuhutziu: Chopin Meets Broadway

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Peisha McPhee & Sergiu Tuhutziu

Chopin Meets Broadway

Catalina Jazz Club, Hollywood, CA, October 1, 2016

Reviewed by Les Traub for Cabaret Scenes

peisha-mcphee-sergiu-tuhutziu-cabaret-scenes-magazine_212A show called Chopin Meets Broadway could very well have been an unimaginative alternating series of classical and Broadway numbers. Fortunately, this show integrated the genres with a fresh, original approach. Classical pianist Sergiu Tuhutziu’s musical arrangements provided a classical background to many of Peisha McPhee’s songs, but Tuhutziu could swing on some of the more traditional arrangement when called for. McPhee impressively demonstrated that she had not neglected her own voice during her years of coaching of American Idol contestants. She displayed strong vocal power on some songs and a lighter touch on others.

After Tuhutziu set the mood with some Chopin, McPhee entered through the audience singing “Tonight.” Tuhutziu’s classically tinged accompaniment seamlessly joined Chopin with Broadway.  “Do It Again” reflected the lighter touch, abetted with rich sound of an added cello and a sensitive delivery of the lyrics. Again, the classical accompaniment enhanced the mood. “The Man I Love” had Tuhutziu weaving elements of Rhapsody in Blue into the arrangement. The duo had fun with their own speed takes on “The Minute Waltz.”

McPhee joked about how she and her daughters were the Von Trapps of the San Fernando Valley, as she blew a whistle, like that family’s Captain, bringing Katharine and Adriana on stage. That led to the trio’s delightful rendition of “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” complete with choreography. McPhee encored with another Sondheim number,  “More,””as Tuhutziu backed her with his own arrangement of “I Got Rhythm.”

While the show successfully joined Chopin with Broadway, it also paired cabaret with social media and the digital age, as McPhee described how she, in California and Tuhutziu, in London, met as Facebook friends and used Skype to put the show together. However it was accomplished, it worked.

Les Traub

Les Traub has been covering the cabaret scene for over twenty years. He is a co-founder and President of Cabaret West and has produced cabaret shows at the Jazz Bakery, Cinegrill, Gardenia, El Portal Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse and at UCLA. He co-produced and wrote a Sammy Cahn tribute show at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. He is Chairman of the Board of Musical Theatre Guild, where he co- produced Sail Away, High Spirits, Little Mary Sunshine and Street Scene at the Alex Theatre. He has lectured on cabaret in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Connecticut. .