Eric Michael Gillett: Stop This Train

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Eric Michael Gillett

Stop This Train

Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYC, September 24, 2019

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Eric Michael Gillett

I have seen the wonderful cabaret performer Eric Michael Gillett many times over the past few years, but he reached new heights with his latest show Stop This Train. This outing showcases Gillett’s singing ability (he never sounded better); more significantly, this musical autobiography moves you emotionally. The 16 songs chosen by Gillett all tell a piece of his life story. The show is both emotionally draining and uplifting. His story of deep depression, terrible tragedy, and rising from the depths is told with amazing dramatic skill, and often touched my heart. Yet Gillett also manages to sneak in quite a few very funny stories that work to make this show even better. Music director Mike Pettry’s accompaniment on piano and guitar was perfect and the two songs that he wrote added to the story.

Gillett’s story begins with his saying that his life did not end with his graduation from high school in 1969, leading into “Walkaway Joe,” a song about a young man who is always leaving, which describes the young Gillett. “So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young,” a line from the title song “Stop the Train” was delivered dramatically and was aptly descriptive of the aging process. The 68-year-old Gillette singing “At age 68 you renegotiate,” resonates. The song ends by saying “you can’t stop the train.

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” He used “Clown” to illustrate the trials and tribulations of an older performer still having to audition for a part.

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Gillett came to New York in 1999 and immediately got a part in the Broadway revival of Kiss Me, Kate. Unfortunately, his career went downhill after that; “Blood on the Moon” describes the depression that sets in after a successful show-business career slows down. Gillett lightened the show temporarily with Stephen Sondheim’s very funny “Hades.” Pettry accompanied Gillette on two songs describing the pain of failed relationships, “You Don’t Know What’s Going On” and his own composition, “Everything I Used to Be with You.” His story about deciding to audition for a show in Las Vegas and getting the job after his career had hit rock bottom was uplifting, as was his story about beginning life anew after a fire destroyed all of his belongings. His closing number, another by Pettry, “Without a Stitch On” hilariously explained why Gillett is now letting it all hang out. The encore was “The Secret of Happiness.”

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.