James Gish: Home for the Holidays

James Gish

Home for the Holidays

Phoenix Theatre, Phoenix, AZ, December 21, 2018

Reviewed by Lynn Timmons Edwards for Cabaret Scenes

James Gish

James Gish has become an Arizona musical theater star. He recently received rave reviews for his portrayal of Tony in Phoenix Theatre’s production of West Side Story. He has the good looks and soaring tenor voice to get cast anywhere in the country, and he is just evolving as a cabaret artist.

Praise goes out to Daniel Davidson Entertainment, producer of this and other cabaret shows for giving singers/actors a stage to hone their craft. His set design and lighting were magnificent and more lush than one expects. His partnership with Phoenix Theatre (PT), which has a large audience base, helped fill the 200-seat Hormel Theater.

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Gish opened with “Baby Please Come Home” (Phil Spector/Ellie Greenwich/Jeff Barry) which, like much of the show, felt rushed and synthetic. He was most appealing on his own song, “Be Forgiving” (music by Jason Webb) and “Little Drummer Boy” (K.

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K. Davis/Harry Simeone). He tried a more spontaneous moment with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Hugh Martin) as a dedication to Michael Barnard, PT’s artistic director. He got a great save from Mark Fury who is a superb accompanist and can carry a tune when called upon. Fury’s virtuosic medley of “In the Bleak Winter” and “Coventry Carol” with cellist Wesley Skinner was a highlight.

Gish was joined by Trisha Ditsworth whose “Everybody’s Waiting for the Man with the Bag” (Irving Taylor/Dudley Brooks/Hal Stanley) was sassy and perfectly sung. They found a friendly duet in “Grown Up Christmas List” (Linda Thompson Jenner/David Foster). Gish opted to sing several pop renditions to tracks, which worked against the authentic, relaxed intimacy of cabaret.

Lynn Timmons Edwards

Lynn writes and performs themed cabaret shows based on the songs of the Great American Songbook throughout Arizona. She has had three short plays produced in the Theatre Artists Studio Festival of Summer Shorts and is working on a full length play, "Fairy," based on the life of Mary Russell Ferrell Colton, a founder of the Museum of Northern Arizona. In addition to writing and singing, Lynn plays bridge and tennis and enjoys traveling with her husband and artistic companion, Bob. Born in Ohio, Lynn is a graduate of Denison University (BA), Arizona State University (MPA) and has lived in Arizona since 1977.