MEMORIES & MARTINIS O'Connell & Company/Colored Musicians Club/on-line
Feb 23, 2021, 20:19

Through February 28
MEMORIES & MARTINIS O’Connell & Company/Colored Musicians Club/on-line

Art is a high-wire act, whether one painter with a brush and a palette, perhaps facing an emperor or a waterway and flowers or a singer alone on stage with the musicians somewhere else.
Theater is that way, usually with little on-stage cooperation, because each theater company has its own repertoire, convinced what its audience wants to see and hear, although there is constant movement of performers.
Only in recent years have local theaters begun to cooperate, a process stalled by the pandemic.
Digital can change that and is with O’Connell & Company’s “Memories & Martinis.”
This isn’t a new show, since Mary Kate O’Connell staged the production in the company home as a mix of the music of her life and memories of her family and music, in that upstairs bedroom.
Now, the music remains, although not much of the family memories survive and the show has been moved to a local societal landmark, the Colored Musicians Club.
President George Scott is on the screen to talk about the history of the club and the legendary musicians who jammed on the stage after performing in front of an audience willing to pay to hear them but not to have them in the building after they left that room.
O’Connell and pianist Chuck Basil are the show and Basil is such a master of the giant grand piano that he never overwhelms her with the music.
Besides the location, another bit of local history is in the music, particularly when O’Connell does “Over the Rainbow.”
That’s one of the great Hollywood movie songs, with so many attempts to match Judy Garland.
What’s history is that the music came from the pen and piano of Harold Arlen, who grew up a few blocks from the Colored Musicians Club, son of a cantor.
He wandered from Buffalo to Manhattan to Hollywood, with one of his songs in this show probably telling of his life, “Anywhere I Hang My Hat is Home.”
I wonder if he ever visited the club.
Could it have been a “Sentimental Journey”?
That’s what the whole show is about, a sentimental tour through the music of much of the 20th Century and the early 21st.
Of course, both the performers and everyone who watches wants O’Connell on a live stage in its most recent home.
Still, “Memories & Martinis” is a reminder of the world of music and what we might hear again…somewhere over the rainbow.


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