Signature Theatre’s Cabaret series for 2011/2012 opened tonight with a bang with the entertaining Music in The Movies, directed by Matthew Gardiner. The program included songs written for movies, and sung in movies.
Onstage to perform these memorable tunes were three of DC’s best: Eleasha Gamble, Natascia Diaz, and Bobby Smith. Music Director and Arranger Jenny Cartney was on piano and back-up vocals, and she was paired with a really talented guitarist named Steve Walker, who also did a bit of singing in the show.
The song list featured tunes from every decade. “The Continental” (from The Gay Divorcee) was the first song to win an Oscar and it was performed beautifully by Bobby Smith. Mr. Smith has a presence similar to what Fred Astaire had in the movies – an air of style and grace. He also performed a haunting version of “Too Late Now” (from Royal Wedding) and a duet with Steve Walker of “Mrs. Robinson” (from The Graduate) complete with Simon and Garfunkel-like harmonies.
Natascia Diaz delivered a beautiful rendition of the song “Uninvited”(from City of Angels) and in a pairing of genius proportions – Ms. Diaz performed “The Way We Were” to Ms Gamble’s rendition of “Alfie”. It was sheer pleasure! Ms. Diaz proved that she is a great character actress as well. Her bratty kid in “I Want it Now” from Willy Wonka was hysterical, and her “Put The Blame on Mame” from Gilda was another standout.
Eleasha Gamble is a force of nature onstage. Her renditions of “Almost There”(from Princess and the Frog) and More (from Dick Tracy) made me never want to hear anyone else sing these songs. Her performance of “Pennies from Heaven” was another highlight of the evening.
The three talented performers also sang one song in French from the film The Triplets of Belleville, and performed a few Disney numbers and songs from Willy Wonka and The Wizard of Oz. Director Gardiner had three exceptional singers to work with, and he paired them with songs that showed off their strengths and many vocal talents.
If you are looking for a fun night out, take in The Music In The Movies at Signature Theatre. I guarantee you’ll be humming and singing these movie classics all the way home.
Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission.