Danny Roland: Friendships & Memories

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Danny Roland

Friendships & Memories

Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA, March 3, 2018

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes

Danny Roland

Danny Roland is a definite charmer who knows how to entertain an audience in song and story—openly, honestly and completely without artifice. He is always totally himself.

Sharing personal anecdotes about his years in Los Angeles after growing up in rural North Carolina, Roland expressed his never-ending appreciation of what the world has to offer with Artie Butler’s “I Don’t Remember Ever Growing Up,” a beautiful song about never losing the wonders of childhood. Though he kept his composure, there seemed to be a tear in his eye.

He also appeared to keep deep emotions in check as he talked about two close friends who succumbed to HIV-related disease in the 1980s, dedicating a tender “Try to Remember” (Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt) to them and to himself—singing with sufficient emotion to indicate he had no trouble remembering the pain of the experience.

He was also masterful in a mash-up of “A House Is Not a Home” and “Make It Easy on Yourself” (both by Hal David and Burt Bacharach), pausing between each verse to describe the breakup of a serious relationship he once had.

But the evening was much more than sad reminiscences, as he called up what he called his IPS—Inner Pansy Syndrome—by flirting with a couple of men sitting ringside during “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” (Cole Porter), finding the sweetness in an unforced “Where the Boys Are” (Howard Greenfield/Neil Sedaka), and switching lyrical genders in an amusing “Go Away, Little Boy (Girl)” (Gerry Goffin/Carole King).

The connection between Roland and his audience was obvious when he lost the words mid-song to ”What a Wonderful World” (George David Weiss/Bob Thiele) and the audience, clearly on his side, spontaneously began singing as one to help him past the momentary lapse till he got his footing again—a lovely moment in a lovely evening.

Playing piano and singing harmonies throughout the evening was music director Michael Farrell, who also served as a patient foil for some of Roland’s comments.
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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.