Imagine. A pianist and a cellist start in on a bluesy melody. A woman (the expressive Melissa Kolczynski) begins to sing a love song—but it’s not your average love song. Shall she choose the “soft” and “enticing” woman (the spunky Samantha Riesenberg) or the “rough” and “exciting” man (the soulful Chase Byrd)? She simply can’t make up her mind.
The amusing single termed, “Bi-blues,” is one of twenty hilarious, heart-wrenching, and dazzling songs that make up the BIELLO MARTIN SONGBOOK, directed by Jeffrey Lesser and musical director Jeff McDonnell. The cabaret show is composed of an entertaining collection of songs written over the years by Dan Martin (composer and pianist) and Michael Biello (lyricist), longtime collaborators and life partners.
As Martin tickles the ivories and extraordinarily talented and accomplished Anthony Pirollo accompanies on the cello, a collection of four actors (including the above and the vibrant Cory Wade) acts out the scenarios. The songs range from funny little numbers about porn stars to beautiful ballads that tug at your heart strings. In one particularly moving piece, a little girl imagines life married to a woman, a life unlike those she sees around her.
Dan Martin’s narration makes each song more powerful as he explains the story behind each piece. Using beautiful chandeliers (from the well-known Biello Martin Studio in Philadelphia), Clifford Greer’s lighting perfectly complements the mood and tone of each song, while the artistic team kept costumes and sets simple and fun.
As a collection, the BIELLO MARTIN SONGBOOK focuses on love in various forms and at different stages. At the end of the show, Dan acknowledges that love is not a trendy topic. Well, that may be true—but it certainly is a fun one.
[Louis Bluver Theatre at The Drake, 341 S Hicks Street] April 14-24, 2016; web.ovationtix.com.