Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Applause! Applause! Review of Gary Lyons' "By Gumm: A Garland Event" at Eighty Eight's by Jan Wallman

This review of Gary Lyons’ “By Gumm: A Garland Event” at Eighty Eight’s was written by Jan Wallman and appeared in Volume III, Issue 1 (April, 1998) of Applause! Applause! published by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens.

"By Gumm: A Garland Event" - Gary Lyons with Paul Greenwood & Katie Guillory
Eighty Eight's (228 West 10th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 4/15/98 at 8:00 p.m.   

No other cabaret act in town can do what Gary Lyons is doing. In this heartfelt tribute to Judy Garland his performance is so daring that he goes out on a limb in almost every number and he gets home free every time. This show is so finely crafted and so emotionally compelling that I completely forgot where I was, so totally immersed was I in the artistry of his talent. The program is entirely made up of material done by Miss Garland but he made each song his own, capturing the audience early on with "If You Feel Like Singing, Sing", "Hello Bluebird" and a sensitive treatment of "I Want To Go Back To Michigan - Down On The Farm" convincing us that this very British Londoner was really a Michiganian.

While he is really the show, "By Gumm" is a team effort. Lyons shares the stage with his indomitable music director Paul Greenwood as pianist and back-up singer, plus charmer Katie Guillory who does back-up, sings a solo and sings a duet with Gary. Where Judy sang to Mr. Gable they sing to "Dear Mr. Raible" hilariously spoofing Erv Raible, owner of Eighty-Eights with a parody lyric written tongue-in-cheek, but affectionately by Gary.

Gary Lyons has been on the N.Y. cabaret scene only since he won the 1997 MAC Award for N.Y. Debut and the Back Stage Bistro Unique Entertainer Award the same season. This year he had MAC Nominations in two categories: Musical Comedy performer for his show "Flight" and song of the year for "Heaven Is Right Here On The Ground" from that show.

"Flight" was my first exposure to Lyons and was, to me, the most exciting show by a male performer that I saw in cabaret last year. The current show is even more electrifying. Gary Lyons is a quadruple threat: an accomplished singer, a dramatic actor, a true magician, a song and dance man who moves like Fred Astaire.

If you are a cabaret aficionado, you would be wrong to miss this spectacular show and the most dynamic original performance in N.Y..

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