Oron Stenesh: O’ver the Hill

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Oron Stenesh

O’ver the Hill

The Duplex, NYC, March 2, 2020

Reviewed by Jerry Osterberg

Oron Stenesh

Watching Oron Stenesh perform is like watching someone run a marathon. Indeed, for a man about to turn 40, Stenesh gave a good indication of his athletic stamina as he strode upon the stage. Think of Danny Kaye and multiply by 10. His energy can easily fill an entire room.

The set list contained over 20 songs, including medleys. Not all were recognizable, but most came from classic musicals and films such as Wonderful Town, Hello, Dolly!, Seesaw, At Long Last Love, Is There Life After High School, and Dear Evan Hansen. From “Welcome to Holiday Inn,” (Seesaw), the last of the Cy Coleman/Dorothy Fields collaborations, to the encore “Happy Days Are Here Again”/“Get Happy,” presented as a spirIted duet with Stenesh’s music director, Joey Clark, the pacing never flagged. Clark, a teacher and singer/songwriter, was quite impressive.

Overall, the program was uniquely eclectic, as one would expect given the variety of lyricists and composers represented; Craig Carnelia, Mack Gordon, Harry Warren, Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Jason Robert Brown, and Paul McCartney were among them. Although Stenesh was having good fun with hilarious parodies of “100 Easy Ways” and “Stormy Weather” (substituting exotic dancer “Stormy Daniels” for Stormy Weather) and bright with renditions of “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” (Stenesh’s hometown), “Second Cousin,” and “Eye of the Tiger” (with a Shirley Bassey finish), he didn’t ignore the tender and poignant, offering “The Kid Inside” (Is There Life After High School), “For Forever” (Dear Evan Hansen), and “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life,” (written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Michel Legrand for the film The Happy Ending).

This was not the first time Oron Stenesh has performed locally. Having lived in New York City for several years, pursuing an acting and musical theater career, he’s presented other shows at The Duplex:  The Big 3-0, The O Train, and Olection, earning a MAC Award nomination along the way. He is also a graduate of the Yale Cabaret Conference; there he met the late Tex Arnold, who wrote the stirring arrangement of “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo.” In 2010, Stenesh moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he joined an enthusiastic collection of fellow cabaret singers who perform regularly under the banner of the Twin Cities Cabaret Artists Network. In fact, the irrepressible singer wrote an article for Cabaret Scenes in 2017, in which he talked about his transition to the Midwest.

We don’t know when Oron Stenesh will be back. I had the good fortune of catching his act in Minneapolis about a month ago at Bryant-Lake Bowl, which really is a bowling alley cum saloon with sound proofing. Meanwhile, we will have to wait and wonder how he can possibly top this fantastic show at The Duplex.

Jerry Osterberg

After decades in the banking field, singing in a chorale, and writing on just about every subject under the sun, Jerry left finance and decided to devote himself to the American Songbook. Countless workshops in singing and writing later, he began contributing articles to the New York Sheet Music Society and to write reviews and feature stories for Cabaret Scenes. Jerry is now the Contributing Editor for the monthly newsletter of the NYSMS, continues to perform in chorus, and is currently researching a biography of the late American pop singer Jo Stafford.