Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quick Hit Theater Review: I Left My Heart -- Music Theatre of CT

Christopher DeRosa, Johnny Orenberg and Jordan Wolfe. Photo: by Regina Madwed/Capitol Photo Interactive
I Left My Heart . . .: A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett
Conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson
Directed by Kevin Connors
Musical Direction by Max Haymer
Music Theatre of Connecticut, Westport

Summary:
More than 30 tunes made famous by Tony Bennett are combined with short stories about the singer by three performers (Christopher DeRosa, Johnny Orenberg and Jordan Wolfe) accompanied on stage by musicians Max Haymer, piano; Chris Johnson, drums; Dan Asher and Richa Zurkowsky, alternating bass in a brisk one-hour-10-minute revue.

Highlights:
A mostly grey-haired matinee audience the day I attended thoroughly enjoyed, smiling, bopping heads, tapping feet and singing along with classics like "Fly Me to the Moon," Night and Day," "That Old Black Magic," and of course, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
DeRosa has a nice singing voice and brings a stylish, confident smoothness to his solos. All three do a nice job of presenting Bennett's songs without trying to imitate him.
Scenic and technical designer Scott Holdredge gets kudos for creating a really terrific sound mix which allows us to hear all three voices harmonizing, all of the instruments and doesn't blow us out of our seats in the very tiny space.

The real star here, though, is the talented Haymer, skillfully tickling the ivories. He's great, whether providing accompaniment in the background or getting a chance to show off his jazz skills.

Lowlights:
Though the voice blend nicely, Orenberg and Wolfe are weak on solos.

Information:
I Left My Heart runs through May 6 at MTC's studio theater, 246 Post Road East, Westport. Performances are Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 pm and 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm. Tickets: $25-$45.
$5 off for seniors/students (subject to availability). Reservations suggested. Call 203-454-3883.
This show concludes the theater's 25th anniversary season. Just announced for next season: Next to Normal, Ancestral Voices and The Cole Porter Project. For information, visit http://www.musictheatreofct.com/1213.html.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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