Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Hector Coris and Matt Newhard in Together (For No Good Reason)
Also see Gil's reviews of Postcards from the Apocalypse, and Curtains
Before moving to town, Coris was a staple on the New York cabaret scene and he is attempting to bring the world of cabaret to Phoenix. Last year he performed an excellent solo cabaret show that featured his The Producers co-star Marina Blue Jarrette, who sang a few songs as his opening act. But the combination of Coris and Newhard, two men who have formed a natural ease and strong bond with each other, elevated this evening into one less about a theme, or a solo singer telling about his life and finding songs that comment on it, and more about humor, friendship, and the shared experiences the two have encountered in their years of knowing each other.
The song list for the evening was a perfect blend of comical numbers, ballads, duets, re-creations of a few of the shared musical theatre moments the two have had together, as well as a couple of non-musical numbers. While both are "tenor slash baritones," as Coris mentioned, their voices are unique, with Coris' powerful, earthy tones and Newhard's crisp diction and sustained high notes delivering soaring solos as well as blending beautifully together.
Two duets got the evening off to a rousing start with "We'll Take a Glass Together" from Grand Hotel followed by Wicked's "What Is This Feeling?" that commented on both the rivalry and revelry the two men share. Anthems, one comical and one serious, followed, with Coris' driving and funny take on "As We Stumble Along" from The Drowsy Chaperone followed by Newhard's soaring and moving version of "Make Them Hear You" from Ragtime.
A pairing of Kander and Ebb's "Married" from Cabaret and Sondheim's "Could I Leave You?" from Follies showed two very different sides to marriage, with Coris commenting, "just because everyone now has the right to marry doesn't mean everyone should." The duo sang three songs from shows they've been in together that gave them the opportunity to show off their acting skills, including the fun "We Can Do It" from The Producers that featured Coris wearing the hilarious toupee he sported in that production.
Serious moments included Newhard's moving delivery of "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha and Coris' stirring and soaring take on "Infinite Joy" from William Finn's Elegies. Comical numbers included "challenge" songs, where each man challenged the other to sing a song outside of their usual comfort zone. Coris was challenged to sing a song not in English and the result was his hilarious delivery of "Besame Mucho" with a very funny English translation of the lyrics by Rick Crom. Newhard's performance of "The Girl in 14G" challenged him to perform different characters within one song. Both men passed the tests with flying colors.
The two said that one role that had escaped both of them over the years was the part of Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors and they delivered two songs from that show to demonstrate what they'd be like in the part. Musical director Curtis Moeller's skilled accompaniment not only added plenty of color and depth throughout but during one of the Little Shop numbers he also displayed his comical acting abilities.
The two men also showed off their tap skills in "Tap Your Troubles Away" from Jerry Herman's Mack and Mabel, and the evening concluded with two powerhouse duets, "Lily's Eyes" from The Secret Garden and "I Will Never Leave You" from Side Show, which showed off the refined vocal prowess of both men and the stirring sound their blended voices create. An encore of Paul Simon's "Gone At Last" ended the evening with Simon's lyrics "I do believe, if I hadn't met you, I might still be sinking fast" a fitting commentary on their friendship.
The Scottsdale Musical Theater Company's presentation of Hector Coris and Matt Newhard in Together (For No Good Reason) played on May 15th, 2016, with performances at the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. You can get information on their upcoming productions at www.scottsdalemusicaltheater.com. Tickets can be ordered by calling 602-909-4215.
Musical Direction by Curtis Moeller