By Myra Chanin


Bob Diamond’s performance at Don’t Tell Mama on Sunday Night October 23rd would have been amazing even if he’d been performing monthly solo musical shows several times a year for the past 25 years. However Diamond’s solo performances have been few and far between which makes his current presentation, The Gift of Love, absolutely astounding.


Where has Bob been all my life? Hiding in plain sight. I considered hiring Russian hackers to get the details of his life via the Internet. Only with Facebook’s help did I learn that Bob was born in Great Falls, Montana, began acting in his teens at Seattle’s Bellevue Playbarn, majored in TV production at the University of Washington, spent two and a half years in the Army teaching Psychological Warfare to enlisted men at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His move to NY, after his army discharge, was a happy twist in his life. It resulted in soap opera acting credits, cuts above theater roles ranging from God to Lady Bracknell and in his directing The Joe Franklin Show on WOR-TV for 35 years followed by a 16-year stint as Director of supernumeraries and children at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, where he first laid eyes on and reserved a place in the life of Raymond Renault. They’ve just celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. As for time future, Bob’s recently joined Ricky Ritzel’s More Than Ready for Prime Time Players in their monthly musical romps through the hits and flops of yesteryear and will be appearing in their January show.


Bob with Joe Franklin


Bob’s Gift of Love was an enthralling performance of unusual ballads that contained precise and moving lyrics about life and love with an emotional depth perfect for mature adults of all ages in the very best sense of the word. Bob looked very handsome, gonna-live-forever-happy in a beautifully crafted, regal purple shirt created for him by super-seamstress Betty Cahill and perfectly pressed black slacks. His hair may be scanty and white but his beaming face and the energy in his sure, mellow voice bear witness to how terrifically pleased he is to have profited from all the twists and turns his life has taken which he happily shared with an appreciative audience. He admitted that he first thought of presenting a remix of shows he’d performed in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, but then declared, “that’s not who I am any more. The feelings are different now. So here’s who I am now.” But the anchor of his life is still “love, in its many aspects: true, unrequited, starry-eyed … so much changes and so much stays the same.”


Bob Diamond is a very welcoming, gifted and crafted performer. You never know what he’ll sing next. It’s a mix of old and new, known and slighted but all excellent except maybe for the James Van Heusen & Sammy Cahn chestnut, “Love and Marriage.” In songs with which I was unfamiliar like Rodgers and Hart “Come and Tell Me,” Bob’s opener, or his passionate edgy, angry rendition of the late John Wallowitch’s “Mary’s Bar,” which stopped the show with its even-more-Weill-and-Brecht-than-they-were texture, I found myself scribbling bits of lyrics which I wanted to remember. “Blame It On My Youth,” Oscar Levant and Edward Heyman’s touching anthem, was another highlight of the show, as well as the wonder of Bob’s delivery of the Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh masterpiece “It Amazes Me,” which truly amazed me.


Another fine song by a contemporary songwriter Craig Carnelia, “The Kid Inside,” was rueful, touching and fitting, but Bob’s closing number, “In Passing Years,” with music and lyrics by his formidable music director, Rick Jensen, contains thoughts and musical phases that will totally capture any listener with a heart and mind. Rick Jensen is a masterful songwriter. If life were fair, his songs would be getting the international acclaim that they deserve. Well, hopefully someday. But for now, “In Passing Years” turned the hearts of everyone in the room to jelly with its melody and truth. The hour seemed like minutes and just raced by.


The Gift of Love directed by Gretchen Reinhagen, with the extraordinary Rick Jensen as music director and on piano, the remarkable Tom Hubbard on bass is well worth going out of your way to see. Bob will be giving three more performances at Don’t Tell Mama on Thurs. Oct 27 at 7pm, Wed. Nov. 2 at 7pm and Sat. Nov 5 at 7pm. It’s a show you truly don’t want to miss.