Performance diary: Adam Guettel at 54 Below

February 20, 2013

2.19.13 — Adam Guettel is a fucking great songwriter and a fucking great singer (and super-handsome), so his gig at 54 Below is a rare treat for anyone who’s a fan of his work. His output is small but high-quality, and the show includes beautiful bits from Floyd Collins, his song revue Myths and Hymns (staged at the Public Theater under the title Saturn Returns), and of course the great Broadway musical The Light in the Piazza, as well as sneak previews from works-in-progress based on two films (Danny Boyle’s Millions and the Jack Lemmon classic Days of Wine and Roses). Guettel had two guest singers, both of them excellent — Whitney Bashor and Steven Pasquale performed a suite of three songs from Piazza (they’ve both been in the show) by themselves and a few duets with Guettel. All this music is complicated and tricky, far from any standard pop music or show tunes, but these wizardly singers made it sound effortless if dazzling. The incomparable music director Kim Grigsby (of Spring Awakening fame, among others) leads a crackerjack three-man band from the piano bench. The show runs through February 23, with two shows Friday and Saturday nights. I highly recommend it. I hope they record it and put it out on CD, as they did with Norbert Leo Butz — I missed Butz, heard it was great, and picked up a copy of the album (Memory & Mayhem) while I was at the club. If you’re not in New York, go to YouTube and look up Guettel — there are a few tasty treats on view there, including the Live from Lincoln Center broadcast of The Light in the Piazza.

adam-guettel

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