“Baritones Unbound” — a cool show for a hot summer!

“Baritones Unbound: Celebrating the Uncommon Voice of the Common Man” is a theatrical history lesson on the greatness of the baritone voice.  The Rodney Dangerfield of the Broadway stage, Marc Kudisch, three-time Tony nominee, created and stars in this witty production which aims to start a renaissance for the baritone voice, which seems to have passed its heyday.  With any luck this merry band will change all that.

He is joined by two fellow baritones, Jeff Mattsey and Mark Delavan; and the three have such an easy camaraderie that that it is a delight to get swept up in the reverie on stage. They are nimbly accompanied on the piano by Timothy Splain.

It is a musical history lesson, from Gregorian chants to a long nod to the baritone’s operatic roots, to the earliest strains of musical theater with the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, “Pirates of Penzance.” Then, we get to more familiar turf as the American musical genre takes it shape, and we are treated to a rousing homage to “Oklahoma,” one of my favorites.

After intermission, the guys are settled into their “man cave” and pay tribute to all the baritone greats, including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Robert Goulet, and even Johnny Cash. We also learn that the baritone voice has had few major show-stopping songs since the mid-eighties. But they made sure we never forget what makes the baritone special with their renditions of these important numbers, including “I am what I am,” from La Cage Aux Folles, and my favorite of the night, the haunting “Stars,” sung by Javert in Les Miserables.

This is the last weekend to check out “Baritones Unbound,” a great pre-holiday treat and a little taste of Broadway in a Sarasota summer.  For more information, go to http://www.asolorep.org.

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