I don’t remember the last time I exited a cabaret show with such a wide grin. Clint Holmes’ celebration of Peter Allen, though not exclusively happy material, is infectiously buoyant. The artist makes everything personal. Occupied by lyrics, puppeted by music – the man can mooove – warm, muscular vocals and appealing personality sweep us up in an evening over too soon.
Allen’s “The Lives of Me” and “The Boy Next Door” offer subdued prologue and a taste of John Isley’s itching-to-soar sax. You used to live in New Yawk Cidi (New York City)/Then you moved to L.A., Holmes sings loping across the stage, bouncing, leaning out, connecting. The man is never still. His bones vibrate with rhythm. Why do you have to be one/When both are so much fun? he playfully continues. (“Bi-Coastal”)
Clint Holmes, John Isley
“Don’t Cry Out Loud” arrives glazed by light piano with a pinch of cymbal. Both hands grasp (and sometimes finger play) the microphone. Holmes has a particularly fine relationship with the bearer of his voice. As Kenny Rogers might say, he knows when to hold’m and when to fold’m. During an instrumental parenthesis, the performer’s brow remains furrowed, focus complete. He rivets.
“The More I See You” (Harry Warren/Mark Gordon) is an example of a song Allen (re)popularized but didn’t write. Initially with only Jakubu Griffin’s cool percussion, the unusual, waltzy arrangement works so well one can’t help regretting additional musicians. Holmes peppers the show with biographical tidbits. He swivels so naturally seeming to see us, inclusion doesn’t feel self conscious.
Nikki Renee Daniels and Clint Holmes
“Peter … wrote love songs to New York” introduces a filmy “Six-Thirty Sunday Morning” carried on light flute, cascading piano, shimmering cymbal…which segues directly into “Arthur’s Theme”: If you get caught between the moon and New York City – you remember, then “I Honestly Love You”(written with Jeff Barry). The always splendid Nikki Renee Daniels joins Holmes on stage. Daniels employs melisma, adding syllables to and handily bending notes. Both voices are powerful and deftly calibrated; chemistry as engaging as harmony. Daniels offers taut satin, emotional vocals. She seems to round lyric edges.
Here’s an occasion when this well executed show manifests the hand of director Will Nunziata whom Holmes later thanks profusely. The performers begin facing forward, then look towards one another locking gaze. You don’t have to say it/I see it in your eyes…Holmes sings. They slowly cross several times as sentiment changes. “You and Me”(written with Carole Bayer Sager) is just gorgeous. Both actors appear palpably distressed. I love you, she entreatingly sings. I love you, he responds. Daniels turns, looks back, and walks off stage. I honestly love you, he sings, looking after her defeated.
An ebullient “I Go to Rio” is enhanced by the joyful dancing of red-sequin-clad Kelly Clinton-Holmes (the artist’s wife). Charo had nothing on this sinuous performer. The rest of us chair dance. “Unlike most singer/songwriters, Peter wrote about everything but his family.” The exception was “Tenterfield Saddler” chronicling three generations of Australian saddle makers. Michael Orland’s music-box rendition embodies deep tenderness. Fly away cockatoo, Holmes sings fingers (and flute) fluttering. An ethereal whistle takes us out.
Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton-Holmes
Holmes describes his mother as “a white, British opera singer, his dad a black, American jazz singer.” They met during World War II and were happily married 60 years. In tribute, the performer wrote the lovely story/song “1944.”: Is there a choice when hearts belong?/Love’s only voice is clear and strong…and they were sure, in 1944… “My mother taught me how to sing correctly,” we’re told, “My father taught me to enjoy it.” ‘Lucky man.
A terrific evening.
Unless otherwise noted, all songs by Peter Allen
Clint Holmes: Between the Moon and New York City
Clint Holmes, Kelly Clinton-Holmes; Nikki Renee Daniels
MD/Piano- Michel Orland
Directed by Will Nunziata
John Isley-Reeds, Jakubu Griffin-Percussion, Aaron Romero-Bass
254 West 54th Street