I just saw the last installment of this year’s Signature cabaret series, each of which featured songs from 5 years of Signature’s history. Tonight’s show featured songs from the last five seasons previous to this, as performed by Eleasha Gamble, Will Gartshore, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Matt Pearson, Bligh Voth, and Jake Odmark.
The show is a concert with some truly spectacular performers having some spectacular moments. Eleasha Gamble is the sort of performer who never seems to set a foot wrong onstage; she was particularly riveting in Midnight Blues from Giant and Saving Aimee’s God Will Provide. Tracy Lynn Olivera was jazzily sassy in See What I Wanna See and heartbreaking (in a park-and-bark kind of way) in I Dreamed a Dream. Will Gartshore had an energetic Run, Freedom Run and Bligh Voth was mesmerizing in He Wanted a Girl from Giant. (Really looking forward to seeing her in Chess next season!) All this was supported by the great music direction of Jenny Carter with Frank Higgins on bass, Mark Carson on drums, and a rousing back-up quintet: Shayna Blass, Autumn Seavey, Alyssa Easterly, Darrin Ellis, and Michael Cafarelli.
A show like this is a kind of a crossword puzzle for a director: getting selections from all the applicable shows, dividing material among the performers, assembling the material and performances in a way to create a unified evening, and then directing the performances in coordination with musicians, lights and sound. On the whole, director Matthew Gardiner did a solid job negotiating all those elements. (And OK, two quibbles — I would have loved to see Show Me from My Fair Lady follow Words, Words, Words from Witches of Eastwick, and I didn’t think the suite from Nevermore had the heft or interest for its placement in the show.) Oh, and there were a couple of real genius moments in the show — especially bringing on Holly Twyford to do a cameo as the problematic auditioner in Our Time.
I thought it was a great touch to do a song from Glory Days as the encore as it was, in many ways, both the most celebrated (Broadway transfer…) and most disappointing (… that lasted one night) show of Signature’s in the last five years. Especially appropos are the lyrics “I’m making mistakes but each one takes me in a different direction” and “I’ve got to tell a story… there’s so much more I feel.”
Here’s to Signature’s next twenty years !