Well-Strung: A Well-Strung Christmas

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A Well-Strung Christmas

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, December 11, 2018

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes


The four handsome, buff young men of Well-Strung, who sing and play stringed instruments exceedingly well, delivered nothing less than a sumptuous feast of entertainment—a festive buffet of varied, lush, and melodic performance—that was ultimately a splendiferous holiday party. Edmund Bagnell (1st violin), Chris Marchant (2nd violin), Daniel Shevlin (cello), and Trevor Wadleigh (viola) pulled out all the stops at their disposal—theatrical training, music skills, props, and humor—to deliver nonstop merry-making and foot-tapping joyousness.

Their sumptuous harmonies on “Last Christmas” (George Michael), “Silent Night” (Franz Xaver Gruber, with sly Vivaldi riffs inserted) were superlative.
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Exquisite mash-ups (combining classical and pop music is their oeuvre) of “Be My Baby” (Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwhich) with “O mio babbino caro” (Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi), and “Paparazzi” (Lady Gaga/Rob Fusari) with “Winter” from Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” were creatively ingenious.

Well-Strung’s humor, coursing throughout the program, was at its peak with a hilarious parody of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” retitled “The Santa Went Down to Target.

” Subtle cleverness was also much apparent in gambits such as Shevlin’s playing of the cello as a guitar in “Santa Baby” (Joan Javits/Tony Springer/ Philip Springer). But lest ye doubt their playing chops, there was excellent pizzicato work and other examples of prime technique throughout on Carol Hall’s “Hard Candy Christmas”) and three wondrous, serious instrumentals of J.S. Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (Hugh Martin), and “Divertimento” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Yet, three numbers rose to the top of an evening filled with show stoppers: the thrillingly hyperbolic “Carol of The Bells” medley; an exultant and yes, awesome, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Freddie Mercury); and a heart-stirring “Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen), which was nothing less than a microcosm of the sum total of Well-Strung’s fierce capacities to entertain. This splendid show was devised by Well-Strung manager Mark Cortale and director Richard Jay-Alexander.
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Marilyn Lester

Marilyn Lester left journalism and commercial writing behind nearly two decades ago to write plays. That branch in the road led to screenwriting, script-doctoring, dramaturgy and producing for the stage. Marilyn has also co-authored, as well as edited, books. It seemed the only world of words she hadn’t conquered was criticism, an opportunity that presented itself via Theater Pizzazz. Marilyn has since sought to widen her scope in this form of writing she especially relishes. Marilyn is a member of the Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Women in the Arts and Media and The League of Professional Theater Women.