Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gavin Creel at the Woman's Club of Minneapolis

If you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and you're a fan of musical theater, you should have been at the Woman's Club of Minneapolis on Friday night.  My favorite Broadway actor, Gavin Creel, performed at a fundraiser for Minnesota's DFL gubernatorial candidate, Mark Dayton, sponsored by HRC Minnesota PAC and OutFront Action PAC.  Gavin recently spent a year and half playing Claude in Hair on Broadway and London's West End, which closed earlier this month.  I became obsessed with the show shortly after it opened, and fell in love with Gavin's voice upon buying the soundtrack.  I also have his two solo recordings, the lovely little EP called Quiet, and his earlier (more upbeat and poppy) recording Goodtimenation.  I finally got to see Gavin and the rest of Hair's talented tribe on Broadway in January of this year.  While Hair has sadly closed on Broadway and in London, it's soon embarking on a national tour.  I was hoping Gavin might join the cast (he confirmed that he's not when I spoke to him after the show), but having this opportunity to see him in concert is even better!

In addition to being a super talented performer, Gavin is also a great advocate for marriage equality, having co-founded an organization called Broadway Impact.  Their website pretty much explains it all: "We are a community of actors, directors, stage managers, fans, producers - pretty much anyone who has ever seen, been in or worked on a Broadway show - united by the simple belief that anyone who wants to should be able to get married."  Sounds like a no-brainer to me.  Mark Dayton is a supporter of marriage equality, so somehow, somebody connected with somebody, and Gavin ended up here in Minnesota for great music and a great cause. 

Gavin with Minnesota's next governor Mark Dayton

On to the show.  Gavin brought with him Mary Mitchell Campbell, musical director of such shows as The Addam's Family, Company, and Next to Normal in its off-Broadway incarnation (one of my recent faves). 

Gavin Creel accompanied by Mary Mitchell Campbell on piano
Gavin started off the concert with a medley of (mostly) Irving Berlin songs, and later sang the Berlin song "Pack up your sins (and go to the devil)."  In addition to a few classics, he also sang several musical theater songs, including "Something's Coming" from West Side Story, "You Got Trouble" from The Music Man (which was fabulous, this song has such complex and clever lyrics that it's always fun to see it done live), a Stephen Sondheim song "What Can You Lose?" from the film Dick Tracy, and a selection from Thoroughly Modern Millie, for which he was nominated for his first Tony.  He also told a very funny story about what it's like to audition for a show, such as the (hopefully) fictional Exorcist: the Musical (a dig at the recent unfortunate trend of movie and TV show adaptations on Broadway).  He sang one of his real-life audition songs, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

Mary Mitchell left the stage for a few solo songs by Gavin, for which he also played the piano.  He sang two new songs, one of which he wrote for his best friend's recent wedding.

Gavin's solo songs at the piano
For the finale of the show, Gavin was joined on stage by local musical theater actors.  Unfortunately they were not individually introduced, but I did recognize several of them, including Ann Michels (most recently seen in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Guthrie), Sasha Andreev (Latte Da in the Park, Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Guthrie) , Harley Wood (from the band Far from Falling and a local production of my favorite musical RENT at the Lab Theater), and Brendan Bujold (the title character in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Chan).  They sang the finale from Gavin's most recent show, Hair, for which he was nominated for his second Tony.  Any concert that ends with a sing-along to "Let the Sun Shine In" is my kind of concert!

Gavin and the local tribe singing
"Flesh Failures/Let the Sun Shine In"
Well, not quite the end.  Gavin and Mary Mitchell came back out for an encore: "The Rainbow Connection."

Gavin and Mary Mitchell: "The Rainbow Connection"

After the concert there was a reception upstairs in the beautiful old building that is the Woman's Club.  Gavin is a popular man, but I did eventually get a few minutes to chat with him.  It's nice to know he's still the warm, genuine, giving person that I met at the stage door of Hair earlier this year.

Gavin and me