Gregory Eichelzer: Songs for My Father

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Gregory Eichelzer

Songs for My Father

Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA, March 15, 2019

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes Magazine

Gregory Eichelzer

Gregory Eichelzer marked the 25-year anniversary of his father’s passing with a sincere, heartfelt tribute that was more celebratory and upbeat than sad or maudlin.

Making his cabaret debut, Eichelzer expressed his emotions about his father through the subtexts of his songs and by using his patter to recall moments of joy in his own life while projecting a warm, outgoing personality and a winning smile.

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He was accompanied by rich, powerful piano support from Greg Schreiner.

His father, Phil Eichelzer, died 25 years ago at the age of 50 of brain cancer.  Eichelzer said that the show was designed as a fund-raiser for the Brain Tumor Center at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he works as an ER nurse.  (The donation ultimately totaled approximately $800 after production costs, he told Cabaret Scenes a couple of days later.)

He delivered his musical sentiments with simple sincerity in the show’s quieter moments, including a tender, heartfelt “All the Things You Are” (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein) that ended with a series of beautiful, ascending notes, and a pair of songs by Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire: a straightforward, unadorned “If I Sing,” and a powerful “The Story Goes On,” which he introduced by noting the generations of family members and friends in the audience. 

He also sang a sweet, solid “When October Goes” (Johnny Mercer/Barry Manilow), noting that his father was originally diagnosed during the fall and recalling that he and his brother were sent to their grandparents’ home while his parents dealt with medical issues. 

Eichelzer recalled his Midwestern roots with the amusing “Iowa Stubborn” (Meredith Willson, from The Music Man) after opening with a pair of songs he sang as a kid with his father playing bass and guitar, respectively:  a sweet, expressive “Rainbow Connection” (Paul Williams/Kenny Ascher), and a smooth “Big Rock Candy Mountain” (attributed to Harry McClintock). 

Noting that Bob Dylan was one of his dad’s favorite singers, Eichelzer moved over to the piano to accompany himself and brought up Phil Booth—a fellow ER nurse—to play guitar and harmonica on “Like a Rolling Stone,” which generated a spontaneous audience sing-along.

Eichelzer also recreated his appearance as the Teen Angel in a production of Grease by donning a shimmering silver jacket and switching to doo-wop mode to have a bit of fun with “Beauty School Dropout” (Jim Jacobs/Warren Casey).

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.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. P. Kent Eichelzer, III

    We had a great time Greg!! Dad was listening!! Thank you for the review Mr. Zwiebach.

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