Gregory Harrell: Cheeky Sneaky Love

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Gregory Harrell

Cheeky Sneaky Love

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, August 14, 2017

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Greg Harrell

Gregory Harrell welcomed his audience to his newest “solo show with lots of guest stars.” Six of them, in fact, along with pianist Bryan Wade doing yeoman work adjusting to the many styles and voices on display. This variety, unfortunately, contributed to a disjointed feeling.  This fragmentation was exacerbated by the wide range of styles our host/star exhibited. He kicked things off with a Billy Eckstine-style “That’s All,” in time jumping to a restrained and finely-judged, Broadway baritone for “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Breeze Off the River,” before lunging into way-over-the-top camp for “A Man Could Go Quite Mad.” Exactly who is Greg Harrell?

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We had no idea.

Some of the song choices also seemed slightly off. For a show devoted to love of various kinds, it is hard to say how “My Friends” (Sweeney Todd) and “Both Sides of the Coin” (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) fit in. However, it was nice to hear some off-beat material such as “To Excess” (Kooman and Dimond) and “Barton Hollows” (Joy Williams/John Paul White).

The guest stars, most of whom shared duets with Harrell and had solos, included: Livvy Marcus, a perky soubrette who had fun with “Orange Colored Sky”; Rosie Upton, offering up a throaty-voiced “Ev’ry Night at Seven,” happily including the rarely heard verse; Riley Ewing, bringing a weirdly charming personality to the aforementioned stalkerish “To Excess”; delightful Emily Wronski; amusing Jay Berkow; and sweet Colton Ryan, who delivered a sincere “Unchained Melody.” All are young, talented folks, but it would have been nice if they had dressed for a performance rather than a bar hop.

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With all the talent on stage, a strong director would probably help in creating a more uniform show the next time they get together.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."