Tim Connell – …it’s the joy in your heart

Tim Connell exudes sincerity. A show like this which sings thankfulness and reaching for the positive arrives not only as balm, but with credibility. Patter is, as usual, genially personal.

“Flight” (Craig Carnelia), hand in hand with memory of Connell’s boyhood Schwinn bike and escaping his enormous family, connects lyric lines with the breathless ease of a kite in the wind. The artist has a way of seamlessly shifting octaves evoking frisson. “Fragile” (Sting) On and on the rain will fall/Like tears from a star like tears from a star…, extremely apropos of the times, ensues without a word of introduction. If it had followed the Carnelia…It did not. A poetic note (at which Connell excels) is missing. Furrowed brow, wordless vocal, and an a capella verse are nonetheless affecting.

From here on, the current of the show makes sense. The performer settles in. He prefaces John Bucchino’s marvelous “Playbill” with the admission that, being old fashioned, he’s uncomfortable with online “swiping” (to date). It’s a scene-in-one. Here’s the actor. The song is understated, evocative. “Anyone Can Whistle” (Stephen Sondheim) emerges the perfect poignant successor. It’s practically sighed.

A tribute to Connell’s brother, “my everyday hero,” elicits “To Dream the Impossible Dream” (Joe Darion/Mitch Leigh). Done to death, this quietly tremulous version manages to shine for what it omits – the grandiose, showoff performance rendered by most vocalists. At his instigation, we all raise a glass to everyday heroes. New to me,“The Butterfly” (Neil Bartram), materializes a tender fable about influencing others without awareness. In Connell’s capable hands, it’s a kind of wise lullaby.

A deft weaving together of Paul Simon’s “American Suite,” Irving Berlin’s “Give Me Your Tired” (partly recited), and Kathleen Lee Bates/Samuel Ward’s “America the Beautiful,” is touching, unfussy, just right in length and warmly “in the spirit of me ma.” The Irishman sounds like a gentle preacher. “Grateful” (John Bucchino) sums up Connell’s feelings: I’ve got a roof over my head/I’ve got a warm place to sleep/Some nights I lie awake counting gifts/Instead of counting sheep. The attitude is admirable and difficult to sustain. A reminder.

Caveats: The first song, Jason Mraz’s pop “Make It Mine” offers no welcome, seems to have nothing to do with through line, and is stylistically unsuited to the performer. I also don’t understand the inclusion of “Satan’s Little Lamb” (Johnny Mercer/EY Harburg) with its out of the blue premise of “sensory overload,” or “Hit Me with A Hot Note” (Don George/Duke Ellington) – the latter performed with playful, bobble -headed infectiousness. Additionally, this is the first time I’ve seen the artist sit during half his performance which diminishes energy and, especially in this room, cuts off a large part of audience view.

The artist’s tenor is lovely, sensibility thoroughly appealing, but he needs a director who will help shape a show.

Tim Connell: …it’s the joy in your heart
Mark Chmiel- Director
James Followell- MD/Piano

Pangea 
178 Second Avenue at 11th Street

About Alix Cohen (1688 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.