What About Bob? at Signature

I saw What About Bob? Favorites and Friends as part of the Sizzlin’ Summer Cabaret series at Signature Saturday night.  The title said it all (and more) — local musical theater notable Bob MacDonald offered a selection of songs, concentrating on his past theatrical roles and raft of guest artists.  MacDonald is a genial presence and took the audience through a well-sung tour of theatrical bari-tenor standards such as I Won’t Send Roses, Unusual Way, and Mama a Rainbow.  Guests included the always-superb Sherri Edelen reprising her Mrs. Lovett, duetting on A Little Priest and fellow members of the U.S. Army Chorus that closed the show with a rousing, if random, medley of Broadway showstoppers (New York, New York, Luck Be a Lady, Memory…).  The highlight of the evening was the appearance of Albert Coia recreating two moments from the Bull and Bush music halls which featured him and MacDonald at the Old Vat Room.

I had a raft of Cabaret 101 issues with the show: the decision not to use a microphone, telling what a song is about before it’s sung, not milking the fact that his mother was in the audience before or after Mama a Rainbow, well-played but standard/generic arrangements by John Touchton, loads of schmacting, a slight ungraciousness with his guest artists, the feeling that the entire show came from either his audition book or The Musical Theater Singer’s Anthology: Baritone/Bass Edition.  On the other hand, there are far worse experiences than sitting through a more-than-competent performer prettily singing some of the best songs from the musical theater.  And the rest of the audience certainly loved the show, for good reason.

But it was disheartening to see the waste of talent.  And with MacDonald slipping into quasi-character for each number performing standard arrangements, one never got a sense of what MacDonald was like, other than a genial, talented performer with a moderately-impressive local resume.  This enigma in the center of the proceeding made the evening’s title, What About Bob? oddly prescient.

  • I Won’t Send Roses
  • The Road You Didn’t Take
  • Pretty Women
  • A Little Priest
  • Unusual Way
  • Mama a Rainbow
  • Anyone Can Whistle
  • Someone is Waiting
  • Sonny Boy
  • The Night I Appeared…
  • Proud Lady
  • Broadway Medley
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