by Jonathan Warman
Chita Rivera (who was sitting in front of me at the Cafe Carlyle Tuesday night) loves Clint Holmes singing songs by Cole Porter and Paul Simon! She was hooting, hollering and jiving! And so was I! The first time I saw Clint Holmes, I had a passing familiarity with his 1973 hit “Playground in My Mind”. I was very pleased to find, seeing his first New York cabaret show “Remembering Bobby Short” at the Carlyle last year, that Holmes combines a rich, warm truly muscular voice with casual elegance.
He’s back at the Carlyle, using the words and music of Cole Porter and Paul Simon to explore the two songwriter’s views on love. Holmes has been a Las Vegas performer for some time, but exhibits none of the negative qualities you associate with Vegas. He only has the good Vegas stuff: He is nothing if not sincere and authentic, and possesses a magnetic stage presence and a practiced but subtle showmanship that underlines what’s important in the show without overselling it. The stage director side of me wonders how good he would be delivering dialogue someone else wrote – he can certainly act a song, and would be a welcome addition to Broadway’s stable of leading men.
Because, in this act, Holmes uses Porter’s and Simon’ s songs to tell a very specific story about a man who falls and love and gets married, only to fall in love with a woman his wife encourages him to dance with (to the tune of Porter’s “It’s All Right With Me” mashed up with Simon’s “Have a Good Time”). The evening also juxtaposes Porter’s “Get Out of Town” with Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”, to tell the conflicted state of mind of the guy Clint’s portraying as he simultaneously attempts to send his mistress packing and sneakily leave his wife.
The arrangements are varied and clever, with a lot of them taking the bossa nova route (a style sympathetic to both composers’ styles). Best of all is a gospel revival-styled reprise of Simon’s “Loves Me Like a Rock”. The show itself is heartfelt and well-researched, much the same as Holmes’s Bobby Short tribute. Holmes is backed by a group of crack musicians, some of whom had worked with Short. All in all, Holmes is a class act, and this show is first-rate cabaret.
For tickets, click here.
For more reviews and interviews by Jonathan Warman, see his blog Drama Queen.