John Rinaldi: He Said/SheSaid

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John Rinaldi


Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, September 24, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

John Rinaldi

John Rinaldi is good company, with a pleasant conversational tenor and a delightful personality. His patter is so witty (“Yentl came out in the early ’80s and so did I”) that it is a shame there isn’t more of it in his show He Said/She Said. Much of his song list is devoted to numbers originally introduced on Broadway and in films by female performers; some are tied into a loose autobiographical structure, some are given a spin by being sung by a man with no pronouns changed, and some are pure camp.
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And herein lies the problem with the show: a decided lack of focus.

“That Dirty Old Man” (Stephen Sondheim) and “So Long, Dearie” (Jerry Herman) certainly fell into the camp area, the former especially fun as Rinaldi got to play with the audience. On the other hand, straightforward deliveries of “My White Knight” (Meredith Willson) and “Guess Who I Saw Today” (Murray Grand and Elisse Boyd) were emotionally powerful. “What You Don’t Know About Women” (Cy Coleman and David Zippel) is a great number, but it really gained nothing from being delivered by a man, nor did it make much sense within the context of the show.
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And ending the show with “Anthem” from Chess really seemed a very arbitrary choice.

There is a great deal going for this show, and hopefully Rinaldi will reconsider some of his choices. He is certainly a talented performer; he just needs to better define what he wants this show to be.

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."