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Hooray for Hollywood


Hooray for Hollywood!...and not for being the film capitol of the world, or for the stars Walk or Fame or that Chinese movie place, but for the Cinegrill room at the Roosevelt Hotel where Davis Gaines performed this past week.

Everyone knows Davis for his durable run in The Phantom of the Opera where he chalked up 1,937 performances. Since then he has been performing in concert across the country from the Hollywood Bowl to Rainbows and Stars in New York. He's garnished rave reviews whereever he has performed. The very busy Mr. Gaines has also recorded a C.D. on LAP records called "Against The Tide" and also starred in the short-lived Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Whistle Down The Wind.

For Davis fans the Cinegrill is a perfect venue to catch his cabaret act. With seating less than 200, there's not a bad seat in the intimate house. And for twenty bucks it was a bargain; so were the cocktails.

Having listened to the CD numerous times, I anticipated listening to a live session wondering if the quality of the live voice would approach the studio quality. I suppose I thought about this because I have seen many performers in the past who just don't live up to the electronic assistance of recording studios. Not with Davis. If anything, he's better live!

When Mr. Gaines took the stage, it was an added pleasure to see the lilt in the eye as he delivered his patter between numbers. In short, Davis was having fun. He's backed up by a trio of first rate musicians for his one hour and fifteen minute performance. The piano player looked familiar to me for some reason, and he should have as it was none other than David Lai. David is the conductor of the Phantom orchestra on Broadway and I had just seen him at the POTO 10 celebration. He also produced the "Against The Tide" CD.

Well, what can I say about the voice that Mr. Gaines possesses that hasn't already been said? It is simply a gift from God. His selection of songs ranged from Sondheim to Rogers and Hammerstein with many of them on the CD. And no, he didn't sing "The Music of the Night", thank god. Not that I don't like it but I'm a bit tired of that song after all these years even though Davis sings it best. I was there to hear "Ol' Man River" because his version of that is also the best ever.

Each selection is performed to perfection as he takes that voice from the low notes and then digs deep for those perfect high notes with such power that it simply takes your breath away. "This Nearly Was Mine" and "Against The Tide" were my two favorites. During the performance, I noticed a photographer scampering around. Thank god he had a silent shutter and was not an annoyance.

At one point a woman in the audience shouted out, "Do you take requests?" Davis took a sip of vodka, or water, and deadpanned, "I don't believe we brought the tip jar." He then apologized for the photographer's movements around the showroom but no one seemed to mind shutterbug Roddy McDowell.

Any disappointments? Only that he didn't sing "Ol' Man River." However, he did sing the title song from Whistle Down The Wind, a song he didn't get to perform in the production and it was a musical that he said was worth doing even though the Prince Webber team didn't produce another hit with this one such as they did with Phantom.

After the show Mr. Gaines chatted leisurely with fans, signing autographs on CD's, Playbills, posters or whatever was handed to him. All in all, Davis is a must see and when he comes to your area, rush to see him. I know I will again. Gotta hear him do "Ol' Man River!" You can e-mail: DGinfoNET@aol.com to be added to a mailing list for upcoming appearances. The CD is available in Borders bookstores across the country. Get it!

Tidbits: Today is Talkin' Broadway day at Rutgers University where performers from various Broadway shows will take questions from the audience about the business. Some will perform as well. I hear it's almost sold out with only standing room available. Cool.

The Last Session closes today, but it's not the end of the show as it will open in the fall in Laguna for a run there. Stay tuned for more news and other productions.

42nd Street, the musical, is planning a revival for the year 2000 on 42nd Street, where else? Can it be 20 years since we saw Lee Roy Reems tapping on those dimes?

The Dreamgirls tour won't be making it to Broadway this season. There are no available houses so it will probably open in the summer or the fall. I know, I know, the Richard Rogers still has the Side Show sets for a possible re-opening in April. Forget about it. Footloose has booked the theater for a fall opening.

InTheater yaks with Charles Nelson Reilly in the Feb. 27 issue. On his Hello Dolly experience, he says, "That show was an awful experience. They fired 25 people in a year, and I was the Equity deputy. Carol Channing wanted to be all by herself on stage, and - to me - Gower Champion was a dreadfully rude man." Get InTheater for the rest of the dish!

Internet fans had a ball with a story printed in the N.Y. Times by Stephen Holden about the state of affairs with Broadway musical. Credibility went down the drain when he stated that Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote Les Miserables. Message boards lit up on various websites!

Did you know that legendary actor John Barrymore wanted to bring Les Miserables to Broadway about 90 years ago? It never happened because he said, "I couldn't find a producer who could pronounce it."

My longish short story, "The Return To Neverland", is being turned into a novel of about 250 pages thanks to Michael Reynolds' encouragement. Michael is a playwright and also writes the "Broadway Bound" column here.

Any publishers out there?


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