Brent Barrett at the Kennedy Center

June 30, 2008
The sensational Mary Sugar attended Brent Barrett’s show, Bernstein on Broadway, at the Kennedy Center.  This was the last show in this year’s Barbara Cook Spotlight Series. (The series was sold out this year, next year’s series – Rebecca Luker, Betty Buckley, Liz Callaway, Victoria ClarkJason Danieley & Marin Mazzie —  looks great.) 
Mary was kind enough to send this report:

          The show was absolutely fantastic!  Brent Barrett has a fantastic baritone ranging from tender moments to soaring high notes that seem to sail.  He also has a comfortable stage presence and was terrific at engaging the audience throughout the evening.  He didn’t hold back at all!
          The show was a tribute to the work of Leonard Bernstein and was a well-crafted mix of well-known and lesser-known songs.  There was a chunk from Mass,  appropriate since it was written for the opening of the Kennedy Center.  Barrett said that Bernstein had given him his first big break in New York, originally casting him as Diesel and then promoting him to Tony during the run of the 70’s revival of West Side Story.  Chris Denny, his music director (who also was influenced by Bernstein early in his career), told a great story – he was on the phone with Bernstein and mentioned that he had just been playing a particular Bernstein song.  Bernstein’s response was “Yeah, it’s pretty isn’t it?”
          When he started into the song I Am Easily Assimilated from Candide, I thought it was an odd choice, but it turned into a great comic number.  The highlight of the show was Make Our Garden Grow.  Everything came out of his guts and erupted little by little into the crescendo — who needs a chorus?

          Bernie Blanks joined Barrett for the On The Town medley, and Chris Denny (whose work on Barret’s Alan Jay Lerner CD I’ve always admired) provided inventive arrangements.

Set list —
  • Tonight
  • Something’s Coming
  •  Lucky to be Me,New York, New York, Gabey’s Coming to Town, Lonely Town
  • I Am Easily Assimilated
  • Return to Westphalia
  • Ballad of el dorado
  • A Little Bit in Love / It’s Love
  • I Love My Wife
  • Dream with Me (Accomp himself)
  • Simple Song
  • Gloria Tibi
  • I Go On
  • Take Care of this House / Somewhere
  • Wrong Note Rag
  • There is a Garden / Make Our Garden Grow
  • Some Other Time