Gillian Hassert, Kyle
Torrence, Jeanne Liebeman & Matthew Stephens
Over the Piano
Songs and stories told over the piano
For the many of us starving for the return of live musical theater
The Cherry Grove
Arts Project provided a talented trio as much needed solace.
Indeed any live
music and vocals would have been gratefully received
but we were lucky
to have these stellar performers.
Director/pianist Matthew Stephens for masterminding the evening by choosing a
list of 22 mostly recognizable and beloved Broadway songs and cleverly
intertwining them with the ample talents of Kyle Torrance, a man of many voices
from operatic to Broadway belter to cabaret to hilarious falsetto as Little
Mary Sunshine (“Little Bit of Good” from Chicago) later in the show.
Lest the evening
get too saccharine, a perfect foil for this multi talented young man is Gillian
Hassert who contributed a sarcastic comedic flair along with her mellifluous
“Hello Dolly” medley is irresistible to any theater nerd and the house was in
their hands but, immediately after Stephens’ inventive approach combined “Almost
Like being in Love” with “Oh, My Feet” (Most Happy Fella) and the romantic,
optimistic “Ten minutes ago (I met her)” with the hard edged “10 cents a dance
Kyle got the
lyrical traditional standards like “Hold My Hand” while Gillian delivered the
iconoclastic “Down with Love”.
combinations were both amusing and attention grabbing to the knowledgeable
Grove crowd. .
While I was enjoying
these offerings immensely it wasn’t until almost halfway through when a straight
forward and sincere rendering of “Suddenly Seymour” struck a chord and I
suddenly became teary at this favorite of mine, filling me with nostalgia at
what we all missed these past thirteen months.
I was saved from
an emotional breakdown by two versions of “Lover Come Back to Me” which Kyle
delivered in the traditional operetta style and Gillian teamed with a jazzy
version. Something for everyone.
Both regaled with
trials and terrors of the painful rite of passage to most musical theater aspirants:
Auditions Gillian reminding of how the finishing climax to a song she was
singing was cut off by her rejection. Kyle’s repartee recounted a favorite but
very difficult song called “Anthem” that he thought was unique only to
discover that many others use that song and few finish it and so, for this
audience, he persisted in singing it in it’s entirety to the applause of this
later the satisfying chestnut “You’re not sick you’re just in love” got the
crowd going and the finale “Happy Days” with its upbeat optimism crowned an evening of hope and optimism with the
return of the Broadway Musical just weeks away.
Cherry Grove, for clearing the way to that glorious goal and thank you Kyle,
Gillian and Matthew, who shaped it so beautifully, for leading the way back to
the dream come true.
1. Hello Dolly Medley
2. Almost like being in love/ooh my feet
3. Ten minutes ago/ten cents a dance
4. Hold My hand
5. Down with Love
6. She’s a woman
7. Toothbrush time
8. Piano Bar Medley
9. Suddenly Seymour
10. Lover Come back to me (two ways)
13. Little Bit of Good
14. Poor unfortunate souls
16. No one is alone
17. What baking can do
18. Dont rain on my parade
19. You’re not sick your just in love
20. Jenny’s Blues
21. I’d give it all for you
22. Happy Days