“I Left My Heart...A Salute to the Music of TONY BENNETT"

--Irene Backalenick

Not that Tony Bennett doesn’t appeal to women of all ages, but ladies of a certain age are surely his predominant fans, as they recall the Bennett heyday of earlier years. And now those ladies can indulge such memories at the Music Theatre of Connecticut. Its current show (which runs from April 20 to May 6) pays tribute to the much-loved singer (born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in 1926). Three pleasant young men with pleasant voices offer a medley of Bennett tunes and tales, winding up -- of course -- with “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

 

In fact, the show takes its name from Bennett’s best-known piece. Created by David Grapes and Todd Olson, the show originated in 2005 at the American Stage in St. Petersburg, Florida, “I Left My Heart...A Salute to the Music of TONY BENNETT” is now a revival under Kevin Connors’ direction, with Max Haymer providing musical direction. Songs have been skillfully interwoven, and move smoothly from one offering to the next.

 

Christopher DeRosa, Johnny Orenberg, and Jordan Wolfe are the three young performers. Dressed in natty jackets and slacks, and making love to the mikes even as they sing, they bring to mind the glory days of male trios at last mid-century. They certainly make the effort to give every one, particularly the ladies in the front row, a good time.

 

Their repertoire runs the gamut, with such songs as “Because of You,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” “Night and Day,” “That Old Black Magic” -- and numerous others which characterized the soothing, feel-good Bennett style.

 

The MTC offers the advantages of an intimate stage, and the performing trio attempts to connect closely with its audience, though this does not work easily. Nonetheless, the ladies can close their eyes and pretend Tony is once again singing directly to them (via DeRosa, Orenberg, and Wolfe).

 

Though this does offer a pleasant evening’s entertainment, we cannot help but feel that MTC is at its best when it tells a story by way of music. Thus it was that “Cabaret” of last year provided such a memorable evening. This time around, Tony Bennett notwithstanding, the evening’s efforts never rise above the word “pleasant.”

 

This review also appears on nytheaterscene.com

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