REVIEW: David Hyde Pierce and Michael Feinstein open the Tarkington

August 7, 2011
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There weren’t any surprises—just lots of good spirits—tonight at the gala celebrating the opening of the third theater at Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts.

Although there was much off-stage chatter about what happened to suddenly resigned head honcho Steven Libman, on stage at the Tarkington, the opening speeches and making-of-the-theater video presentation were focused on the future.  

Entertainment-wise, things got off to a slightly awkward start. I didn’t quite understand why we then were shown a movie montage of early Hollywood set to Judy Garland singing “Over the Rainbow.” Yes, it’s lovely. But we knew that. And what does that have to do with this show. Then Michael Feinstein offered into a video-clip-synched “That’s Entertainment,” which included additional, lesser lyrics (perhaps the ones added for the film “That’s Entertainment, Part II,” but I’m not certain). Did I really hear something about “More can happen on a silver screen/then can happen on a stage”? Really? Then why didn’t Carmel build a multiplex instead?

Carmel’s own Julia Bonnett, winner of the 2009 Great American Songbook High School Competition was in good voice for her one song, “Maybe This Time,” and American Ballet Theatre dancers Gennadi Saveliev and Stella Abrera were solid but surprisingly lacked passion in the bedroom pas de deux from “Le Corsaire.”

Feinstein later proved himself in the banter (this time without the index cards that lent a feeling of phoniness to the Palladium opening). His “Bad Songs by Great Songwriters” intro, including a reference to the Gershwin’s “"If I Can't Have-Anna In Cuba, Then I'll See-EstherIn Spain,” was particularly fun. Rather than sing a dud, though, he launched into “Time After Time.” (The one by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, not the one by Cindi Lauper—but she’ll be at the Palladium soon if you want to hear that one.)

Feinstein stayed on after introducing David Hyde Pierce, star of Broadway’s “Curtains” and “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” The duo sang “Together with Music,” a lesser tune saved by Pierce’s good humor in the playful addition of other buddy songs, including “Tea for Two” and “Side by Side.”

Pierce—who jokingly claimed that he didn’t read the contract carefully and thought he’d be playing in Carmel, California—watched from a stool by the piano as Feinstein delivered his strongest song of the evening, “I Want to Be Around to Pick Up the Pieces.” The playful tune also afforded the onstage combo an opportunity to shine brightly.

A “Hello, Dolly!” cut number, “Penny in My Pocket,” played to Pierce’s character-driven strengths, leading to the mutual-admiration-society anthem “You’re the Top” with Feinstein. Without augmented lyrics, thank you.

Pierce’s showpiece “Spamalot” number, “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” and a Feinstein/Pierce four-handed piano action climaxed the show. But Feinstein once again had to have the last song, with more out-of-place Hollywood video.

Then it was off to buffet stations. And more talk of the future for Carmel’s now-complete three-theater complex, whose Tarkington will soon house the work of the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre, and more.

Your thoughts?

  • What a Swell Party
    Now, can we please raise the artistic level above that of a cocktail lounge in the local bowling alley.

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.