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.

And after almost five years of reviewing 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 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 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.

 
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