WOMAN AROUND TOWN
An Eloquent Heart: Eric Michael Gillett
Sunday, January 16th, 2011
by Alix Cohen
Things are just where they should be tonight. Yes, they are. Eric Michael Gillett draws his
audience in with hypnotic focus. Pausing between phrases, the space of a breath or a
musical bar fills with feeling. His voice is smooth and muted. One hand gestures. The room is
I just found a bug in the sink…What?! Jolted from reverie, eyebrows raise. The bathtub was
made for an elf/What I like about the place is, it’s yours and mine. Ah, it’s a love song. Gillett
drops thirty‐five years. It’s their first apartment. He’s ingenuous, adorable. But relationships
end. Here’s what I cost/A dime to get lost…all the hurt and frustration of the division of
worldly goods stands before us on the stage. Rising anger is kept in check. This is an actor.
The dog, you keep the dog…The economy of Carnelia’s words and the nuanced sincerity of
Gillett’s performance is a match made in theatrical heaven.
“I grew up in the shadow of the MGM studios…” leads us into Old Movies: Charles Foster Kane,
Mrs. Norman Mane and me.…Personal stories bridge some of the numbers. They’re brief, apt and eloquent (much like Carnelia’s craft). Other songs flow seamlessly one to the next creating a
narrative. Blood on the Moon (Ever seen that one?) drifts into the Cowboy Waltz, which
begins like a lullaby and curiously becomes an anthem. (The lullaby was more effective).
Gillett drops his “gs” portraying an old galoot.The only prop is a photo of four‐year‐old Gillett with his mother. “She was impossibly beautiful,” he recalls, a catch in his voice. With The Picture in the Hall, a profoundly touching song about sepia memories, he assumes the light touch of a potter at the wheel—
effortlessly shaping the verse, in deferential control. The Last 40 Years expresses gratitude
and says goodbye to a loved one. Notes are sustained past sadness into mourning.
You wake at ten/You take a walk/You meet a chum One of several songs from the musical
Working, Joe… portrays a man who’s set himself out to pasture. The mettle it takes to get
on with life is intrinsic in every small daily activity. Joe ends so delicately it’s as if airbrushed
out. There are tears in the audience. Gillett can do that.
From dignified old man, to an awkward, pimply high school kid pining after his teacher: How
come you can call on me/But I can never call on you, Eric Michael Gillett takes the audience on
a journey of relationships—with parents, friends, lovers, mates, and ourselves. His rendition
of the poignant, Just a Housewife and utterly charming duet of Fran and Janey (with pianist
and Musical Director, Jeff Cubeta), are no less meaningful or sympathetic sung by men. Didja
fall in love/ the way we used to plan/before our lives began is universal in sentiment. “I’m it,
I’m the cast of thousands.” Yes, he is.
In Come On Snow – Come on snow/make my Monday a la mode… and Flight, Gillett soars—not
for the first time or last. Baritone at full throttle, his is a voice that conjures wonder. Strong,
deep, unwavering and joyful, its full measure is simply splendid.
Arrangements by Jeff Cubeta and Christopher Denny are beautifully calibrated, warm and refined.
Craig Carnelia, treasured in cabaret and musical theater circles for his deceptively simple,
graceful, and direct expression, is more than worthy of an evening. Fifteen years ago, Gillett
created that evening—a tribute really—at Eighty‐Eights. He hopes to develop the version
showcasing at Don’t Tell Mama into a new theatrical production of that work. (Fewer songs
in encore mode are suggested). The pleasure of hearing so much deft, moving Carnelia
performed by perhaps his ultimate interpreter, is a genuine treat. Eric Michael Gillett is
Eric Michael Gillett
Cast of Thousands‐Gillett Sings Carnelia
Music & Lyrics by Craig Carnelia
Musical Director & Accompanist, Jeff Cubeta
Arrangements by Jeff Cubeta and Christopher Denny
Don’t Tell Mama
343 West 46 Street