Singing The Standards - A 1940s Radio Show

Driscoll Raises the Entertainment Standard You'd better catch this rising star while he's still in town. By Clarence Moore. Peoria Journal Star 1999


Ira and George Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers and Duke Ellington are no longer around, but the music they wrote lives on.

These legendary composers probably would be thrilled to know that some of their best known songs are being performed with care and style by a dynamic young singer and actor named Andrew Driscoll, who is starring in a highly entertaining show titled "Singing the Standards".

Driscoll is a talented song stylist blessed with an impressive voice that commands attention the moment he opens his mouth. While most Peoria audiences are familiar with Driscoll from his many fine performances at Eastlight Theatre, he also has performed on the New York stage and in a few films.

And after almost five years of reviewing local productions that usually feature aspiring actors, dancers, and singers who really should be doing something else - like pumping gas or flipping burgers - I was pleased and surprised to see a performer from Peoria doing exactly what he should be doing: entertaining people with song.

Driscoll uses his voice well in this show that's part cabaret concert and part 1940's radio show, complete with old-fashioned commercials for Wheaties and beauty soap.

Here's the concept: Driscoll is summoned at the last minute to mythical New York radio station WOWA to substitute for the missing Frank Sinatra, who has been detained in Hollywood and can't make the broadcast. Driscoll, supposedly an unknown singer, is given the chance of a lifetime to sing for a listening audience that has tuned in to hear ol' Frankie.

In keeping with the show's nostalgia them, Driscoll performs a program of classics from the songbooks of some of America's greatest composers. The Gershwins' "Love is Here to Stay"; Johnny Mercer's "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe"; "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off", another Gershwin tune; Harold Arlen's "Stormy Weather"; and a medley of "Heart and Soul" and "Blue Moon" are just a few of the tunes he performs in the first act.

Backed by a combo that included piano, saxophone, acoustic bass, and drums, Driscoll held the opening night audience spellbound with his interpretative vocal skills.

Driscoll has an almost ethereal tenor voice that's easy on the ear. His range is incredible, and his style is unpretentious, making his singing seem effortless, the hallmark of a good singer.

By the way, there are no fancy sets, just Driscoll, some theatrical lighting, and a microphone.

On opening night, I also witnessed something I have never seen happen during the time I have been attending local theaters: Audience members eagerly applauded for the second act of "Standards" to start after the intermission. It was as if they couldn't wait to hear more of this guy.

The second act had just as many highlights as the first, including Driscoll gently swinging through "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", "My Romance", and "The Way You Look Tonight" and quieting the room and demonstrating amazing vocal control over familiar ballads such as "Over the Rainbow" and "Someone to Watch Over Me".

I don't always go out on a limb and offer solid endorsements of the shows I've seen, but if you enjoy hearing standards and great American love songs sung with authority and charm, then hurry down to Haberdashers and catch Driscoll's act.

Talent as good as Driscoll's rarely stays in town for long, so we had better enjoy him while we can.

Billy Joel Songbook - Part 1 The 70s
Andrew Driscoll - Billy Joel Combine for Night of Great Music 2000

To put a spin on a song title, "he's got a way" of delivering the music of Billy Joel that would make the Piano Man proud. Be it Joel's "She's Got A Way", "Piano Man", or "Just The Way You Are", Andrew Driscoll's spin on the songs of Billy Joel made for an evening of great entertainment recently at the Apollo Fine Arts and Entertainment Centre.

"Andrew Driscoll Sings the Billy Joel Songbook - Part 1 the 70s" was an evening which had an intimate feel of gathering around the piano as Driscoll treated his audience to magical musical moments, interspersed with personal insights offered with openness and humor.

Among those insights was the esteem in which he holds Joel's music with which he grew up, said Driscoll. Whatever influence it had on Driscoll's metamorphosis into a wonderful talent in his own right was evident in Driscoll's performance, particularly during the evening's finest moments when it was just Driscoll, the piano and the song.

So in tune to, so into these songs is Driscoll, the boundaries of stage, sets, and other professional trappings virtually disappeared and it was just Driscoll immersed in the music. These were the moments that transcended the mere performance of a song and where it allowed the singer and his audience to go was a nice place to be.

The concert started out in fine fashion and built from there. Along the way, each familiar Joel tune ("Honesty", "Just The Way You Are", "She's Got A Way", "Piano Man", and others), took the audience reaction up a few notches. Those less familiar with some of Joel's works found that Driscoll's performance was a nice way to be introduced to them.

A standout number was Joel's "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant", which Driscoll confided is hard to do. Driscoll, however, made it look easy. He and his band did a bang-up job, drawing one of the biggest audience responses of the night. While Driscoll refrained from imitating Joel's voice, depending instead on his own exceptional vocal skills, there were spots in "Scenes" when Driscoll even sounded like his musical hero.

Joel fans/Driscoll fans doubled their pleasure, doubled their fun, as Driscoll sang the "Billy Joel Songbook - Part 1 the 70s". The combination of those two talents was a guaranteed winning combination.

Copyright © 2002 Conundrum Theatre Productions. All Rights Reserved.