NY Music Review by Alix Cohen
Liam Forde could use a video of this idiosyncratic show as an audition piece. The irrepressible 24 year-old sings, writes, arranges, plays piano and flute- all well, and there’s probably more. When unchoreographed, he dances like Dick Van Dyke, all loosey goosey arms and legs.
Loosey Goosey is an apt description for this grab bag of eclectic material with neither through line nor fluent introductions. Though individual numbers are skilled, the show is clouded by abrasive interpretation more germane to its opening number, “The Coffee Jitters” (by Forde). Presented with demented, comic flamboyance, the musical monologue effectively features a trio of vocalists who, here, sound like Manhattan Transfer or The Andrews Sisters plus one.
Overall feel is not high energy exuberance, but aggressive. The silly, well staged “What’s New at the Zoo?” (Jule Styne/ Comden & Green) in which animals complain about stepping on one another in an overcrowded facility, becomes angry yelling rather than humorous annoyance and ends with “Somebody call PETA!”
“On a Sunday By the Sea” (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn,) a jaunty song from High Button Shoes, which nostalgically begins with the foursome in a car, evolves to strident, frenetic “play” on the sand. “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House” (Cab Calloway) is conceived as an angry threat. Guests comply and end with upset stomachs.
Multi-talented vocalists: Emily Ferranti, Tyrone Davis Jr., and Julie Thomas both support and solo, morphing from comedy to camp, from forties swing to gospel, to ba ba da ba dah backup. They’re infectiously expressive, move well, and act as a well oiled team. “Sermonette” (Quincy Jones/Jon Hendricks), for example, is a harmonic, New Orleans march that rouses seamlessly to robust, jitter-bug like jazz.
“Wait Until Dark” (Henry Mancini/Ray Evans/Jay Livingston): Who cares how cold and gray/ The day may be/Wait until dark/And we’ll be warm… is reflectively spoken to excellent bass underscoring, then lightly sung as piano and percussion tiptoe in. “Like Someone in Love” (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) dances, mid tempo and low key. “L’Etang” : “The Pond” (Paul Misraki) is recited in English, then performed in good French. A difficult, unmelodic piece, its sentiments have gravitas. Forde is a fine pianist.
A thoughtful, piano-only encore of Jerry Herman’s “Open a New Window” communicates better than much we’ve seen.
Musicianship is deft.
There’s no question Liam Forde is both an intriguing and talented artist. I look forward to the next show with interest and curiosity. Till then, less coffee?
A Fleet Phantasmagoria!
Liam Forde- Vocals/ Arrangements/ Piano/Flute
Singers: Emily Ferranti, Tyrone Davis Jr. , Julie Thomas
Directed by Christopher Murrah
Piano-Ian Herman, Bass- Jerry DeVore, Drums- Nick Eldridge
Stage 72 158 West 72nd St.
Coming up: September 5, October 24,
Photos/Video: Russ Weatherford