Review: Feinstein, Sedaka, Botti etc. at Palladium gala

January 29, 2011
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There were expectations ("perfect sound" touted the marketing message), rumors (on the way into the theater, someone asked me if I knew that Elton John was going to show up), and evening gowns and tuxes galore.

An hour or so ago, the stars of the gala concert for the Palladium took their bows and the patrons headed off to dinner and a party that will continue late into the evening.

They have a lot to celebrate. And I'll have more to say about the house that Carmel built in the upcoming print IBJ.

For now, though, let's talk about the concert.

After the expected speeches were made, the crowd stood for a color guard arrival and then awkwardly remained on its feet through the Carmel Symphony Orchestra's performance of Ferde Grofe's "March for Americans." Then Center for the Performing Arts Artistic Director Michael Feinstein took the stage with "Once in a Lifetime," the Sammy Davis, Jr. staple from the musical "Stop the World I Want to Get Off." It's a tricky song to pull off, especially in this context, without sounding egotistical. ("This is my moment... I'm gonna do great things") but Feinstein was in good voice and the symphony players stepped up to the task.

Following "My Romance," Feinstein took to emcee duties, which unfortunately meant the use of index cards, leaving a bit of a final rehearsal feeling. Guest Cheyenne Jackson was brought into the act as a shadow emcee, with the pretense that he was learning the ropes from the more experienced Feinstein. A fun idea, leading to some playful interplay. (After Feinstein mentioned the song "Where the Boys Are," Jackson added, "One of your favorites," which Feinstein topped with "It's a new day in Carmel, ladies and gentlemen.")

Jackson, star of Broadway's "Finian's Rainbow" and "All Shook Up," then took over for a short set that included a swinging "Don't Get Around Much Anymore."

Next up was Chris Botti and his combo, whose two-number set was strong (including a short, low-key take on Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah") but left me wanting much more. While all the acts had wonderful things to say about the Palladium, Botti dug himself a hole when he inadvertently referred to Carmel as "the middle of nowhere."

The best known of the acts were saved for last. The justifiably praised acoustics were not a friend to Dionne Warwick's voice, as she valiantly offered her hits "What the World Needs Now," "Alfie," and "That's What Friends Are For." Neil Sedaka, in turn, was like a friendly uncle taking the piano to offer approximations of "Laughter in the Rain," "Calendar Girl," and a mix of both the slow and speedy versions of "Breaking Up is Hard to Do."

And while some "Jersey Shore" jokes fell flat, Feinstein and Jackson gave a pick-me-up spin to "Me and My Shadow," with "Woody's"--just down the road on Carmel's main drag--dropped into the lyrics as the drinkery of note.

It may have been wiser to end the concert there. Instead, Feinstein stayed on for a double hit of "For All We Know" and an oddly husky "I'll Be Seeing You," then followed that with  "We Dreamed These Days," written with Maya Angelou. In theory, the number incorporated the Indianapolis Children's Choir which, unfortunately, was sonically lost behind the full-throttle Carmel Symphony Orchestra and the amplified Feinstein. Even in a world of outstanding acoustics, sound mixing is key.

All in all, a strong if not exhilarating way to launch a venue that I plan on spending a lot of time in over the coming years. In fact, I'll be there again in less than 24 hours at the performance by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

I only hope that, at future shows, those seated in the seats behind the stage realize that their flash photography means annoying lights in the rest of the audience's eyes.

Look for more in the February 7 IBJ. For a full schedule of upcoming shows at the Palladium, click here.

Your thoughts?




  • Really?
    A color guard? And a march? How patriotic!
  • But the colors!?
    Don't you feel that the brand new hall is just like a baby's room in powder blue and light pink--dreadful choices for colors that they have to live with forever.
  • Unkind acoustics
    Funny comment, Lou...Dionne was a chain smoking chimney most of her career...maybe just the years and smokes were unkind. Her first hit was about 1962-3, near 5 decades, she had several hits before Bacharach. Same deal with Sedaka, he is in his 70's, and he is your friendly grandpa as well as uncle...if he sounded like an apporximation of himself, he did pretty well. As for Botti, curious comment about Carmel...he studied at IU, and he is from Portland/Corvallis, Oregon. Those places are not exactly the "middle of nowhere", but they are a long way from NYC or LA too. But he is a fine trumpeter who studied, worked hard. A worthy performer for the gala. As for the interplay between Feinstein and Jackson, I doubt there will be a new day in Carmel anytime soon. The folks there will be glad to outfit you with your own closet, thank you very much, just ask them. But they do have their own fancy concert venue, and maybe next time a sound mixer. I hope it goes well for them...takes a ton of nerve to invest in something like that in this day and age.

  • Spelling
    Proofreading is a lost art - but note that it is Paladium - not Paladiu!
  • correction
    Thanks for the eagle eye. The typo has been corrected. (And, FYI, check your spelling of Palladium. Seems the art is more lost than we thought.)
  • Keeping it Real
    Great review. Not great in that you heaped tons of praise on the whole evening, but that you gave it an honest assessment. Candor is often missing in some other area reviews. Thanks for keeping it real.
  • Sunday
    Sunday's performance was when the hall "strutted its stuff." The sound from the no-mic'd strings was nothing short of phenomenal. Lived up to every expectation and more. An extraordinary event.
  • chamber music review
    Review of the chamber music concert is posted here.

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