BariToned: Damsel in Distress

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Damsel in Distress

Birdland Theater, NYC, March 19, 2019

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes


The magical rule of three applied to music offers no better proof of delight than the trio comprising BariToned. These manly men possess the power, punch, and pizzazz to guarantee a happy-making evening of prime razzle dazzle. Plus, shtick aside, their singing is exquisite, with major chops developed from roots that go deep in musical theater.

The conceit of the act, Damsel in Distress, is, à la Broadway Backwards, guys singing material written for women. Numbers such as Oklahoma!’s “I Cain’t Say No,” South Pacific’s “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair,” and The Apple Tree’s “Gorgeous” easily lend themselves to camp. Other numbers, such as “Baby Dream Your Dream” (Sweet Charity), “There’s a Fine, Fine Line” (Avenue Q), “Astonishing” (Little Women), and “Fifty Percent” (Ballroom), reveal the group’s more serious side and underscore a reverence for the lyric and the natural dynamism in a song, as well as their intention of celebrating strong, independent women.

BariToned consists of founder and producer Edward Miskie, founding member Joe Hager, and baritenor Kyle Hines.

The three produce sublime music from glorious vocal instruments, with a chemistry and artistry that’s as entrancing to watch as it is to hear. With barely any narrative, their concert approach to entertaining is smart and swift as they whip off medleys, counterpoint, and harmonies, interweaving numbers at a vigorous pace––with exits and entrances a-go-go. Their pairing of “My White Knight” (The Music Man) with “Black Boys” (Hair) was as clever as it was amusing. Two other winning pairings were “What You Don’t Know About Women” (City of Angels) with “Buddie Beware” (Anything Goes); and The Producer’s “When You Got It Flaunt It!” with Sweet Charity’s “Big Spender.” Hidden gems also dotted the repertoire, such as “That Dirty Old Man” (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum) and “Wherever He Ain’t” (Mack and Mabel).

Brilliant musical arrangements were conceived by music director and pianist Dan Pardo and choreography was by Brooke Martino (Yes, BariToned men can certainly move and dance!).

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.