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Simon Green: Traveling Light
An appealing and accomplished baritone with a worldly charm, Green is also a trained actor. True to the title, he acknowledges the technical aspects of travel, airlines, passports, packing, and all those increasingly vexing steps to get from one place to another. He includes some witty travel translations, like the Romanian directive, "If you think your room is dirty, you should see the manager."
On another level, however, he explores the personal travels we all take through life and love. He is a storyteller, picking up a book and reading bits of poetry and prose from the writings of Rudyard Kipling, Robert Frost, A. A. Gill and Noel Coward. He illustrates his observations with music from an eclectic song list, some as familiar as the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and others less well known, such as the exuberance of a boy "Going Down Hill on a Bicycle" by Henry Charles Beeching and David Shrubsole.
In the cozy boite, Green combines dapper panache with easy audience communication but without much patter. His 35 selections of music and prose reveal what he wants to say. Each reading leads into a song, illuminating it and then building on the message with another song. In one instance he anticipates visiting "Fabulous Places" (Leslie Bricusse) around the world, but after the exotica of Bangkok, Hong Kong, Paris and Venice, he realizes that, "It Never Was You" (Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson) and something vital is missing. When nothing goes as planned, it's time to be "Moving On" (George Stiles and Anthony Drewe in The Card ).
The segments are distinct, as with the romantic pairing W. H. Auden's "As I Walked Out One Evening" with Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean." Another interprets the imagination through songs by Bricusse, Gershwin and Weill. Green switches from the offbeat humor of Burt, Atwell and Hein's. "Some Little Bug" and takes on the formidable and protracted poem, " Errantry" by J.R.R. Tolkien with music by Donald Swann.
This is Green's second December appearance as part of the annual Brits Off Broadway. The mix this time includes Noel Coward's "I Like America", the fun of Dietz and Schwartz' "Rhode Island is Famous for You" and the joyful promise of Joni Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning." David Shrubsole's arrangements and piano accompaniment are inventive and often soaring, bringing a new aspects to songs like Jerry Herman's "Open a New Window." and his lyrics fit neatly with those of Maltby and Shire's Coffee Song.
Simon Green follows Ivor Novello and Edward Marsh's haunting, "The Land of Might-Have Been" by repeating the opening advice he eloquently brought to life in this show-" Explore. Dream. Discover."
For other cabaret news, see my monthly cabaret column .