Dunstan Playhouse, Wed Jun 18
Brain d’Arcy James is an incredibly talented performer. He has been nominated for two Tony Awards, played opposite Debra Messing in TV series SMASH and has starred in Broadway shows Next To Normal, Titanic and Shrek The Musical, where he played the title role. It was therefore disappointing to see the theatre only half full tonight. But those of us that were there were treated to a brilliant skilful performance.
James performed songs that make up his musical DNA, with both musical theatre and pop from the ‘70s and ‘80s, including songs by Squeeze and Billy Joel. Musical director and arranger Dan Lipton ensured a smooth flow between the musical theatre and pop hits while James was supported on stage by a beautifully sounding band of piano, drums, guitar and bass.
It appeared many songs were unknown to the audience, which didn’t seem to bother anyone, as James has a great effortless sounding voice with a lovely emotive quality to it. One big crowd favourite was his tribute to various musicians born in his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan, USA like Stevie Wonder as well as other musicians who have mentioned the city in songs such as Simon and Garfunkel in their hit America and the song Saginaw, Michigan written by Bill Anderson and Don Wayne which was made famous by Johnny Cash.
James related well to his audience and told some great stories, like the arduous task of being made up as Shrek each night and the terror of auditioning for Marvin Hamlisch in his apartment. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival has been inviting some truly great stars from Broadway in recent years and I hope people make the most of the opportunities and see these brilliant performers when they come to town.
by Bobby Goudie
Brian d’Arcy James performs Under The Influence at Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, until Thu Jun 19.