Adam Gwon: An Evening with Adam Gwon

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Adam Gwon

An Evening with Adam Gwon

The Green Room 42, NYC, July 7, 2019

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Adam Gwon

The talented songwriter Adam Gwon, best known for his off-Broadway hit Ordinary Days, hosted a charming retrospective of his work, both past and future, performed by an impressive lineup of theater artists. It was wisely divided into three clear sections based on a trio of his theatrical works. The show began with an amusing specialty song delivered by Gwon himself, acerbically observing his present “mid-career” position with a pleasantly idiosyncratic voice, backed by a vocal quartet who provided strong support throughout the evening (Sean Doherty, Chloe Howard, Keslie Ward, and Donte Wilder). Each song was set in context with charm by the songwriter, who provided the piano accompaniment throughout (except for his opening number when it was played by Josh Knight).

Ordinary Days: Gwon’s best known show kicked off with the conversational lyrics of “Don’t Wanna Be Here” offered up by Destinee Rea, a perfect pairing of performer and music. After providing a great background story about the next song, Gwon handed it off to good friend Deborah S.
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Craig, who exhibited brilliant comic chops while trying to find some “Calm.
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Wicked veteran Jessica Vosk devastated the audience with the best-known piece of the show, “I’ll Be There.” Finally, Raymond J. Lee got to share a song that was cut from the show, “Seeing You There,” which is just as fine as those that remained in the show (and the writer’s mother’s favorite melody).

String: This West Coast-developed musical concerns the Fates, the three sisters of myth, adjusting to modern-day life. Arielle Jacobs offered the intriguing view of these demi-goddesses with the hypnotic “Uncharted Territory,” followed by Sarah Lynn Marion’s rock-ish comic declaration of being “So Over” the complexities of her life. Finally, Sevan K. Greene and the quartet offered up a Sondheim-ish cry for help for those trapped in separate elevators, “Get Me Out of Here!,” which found clarity in confusion.

Scotland, Pa.: Cast members were featured from the upcoming Roundabout production of Gwon’s newest work, which was inspired by an independent film and a certain Shakespearean tragedy. Taylor Iman Jones offered a fresh take on the plaintive “I Want” song, “We Got Stuck,” followed by Ben Frankhauser’s charming confessional, “Why I Love Football” (let’s just say it’s not for the reasons you think). Dave Thomas Brown joined Jones for the troubled “Clairvoyance,” unfortunately the least compelling song of the evening, but not without some merit.

Lonnie Price, the director of the upcoming production, also guided this evening with a deft hand. Other musicians who made their presence felt were Jay Mack (drums), Joseph Wallace (bass), and Andrew Zinsmeister (guitar).

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."