July 24, 2011 | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Local gay singers charm with cabaret sets

Two local gay crooners performed delightful individual sets Friday night at Arlington’s Signature Theatre as part of its “Sizzlin’ Summer Cabaret” series, which runs through Aug. 6.

Signature vet Will Gartshore opened the evening with a smoldering and eclectic show dubbed “All the King’s Men” that found him darting around from show tunes to standards to pop/rock hits. He broke his wrist in January during an ice skating spill and tied the show together with themes of invincibility, his lack thereof, his childhood superhero fantasies and more. It was a clever way to work in some biography without being too self indulgent. You left feeling you’d gotten to know him.

The main draws, though, were three-fold — Gartshore’s sturdy, shimmery vocals, tight pacing — he and two accompanists churned it out like they were on live TV, often not even stopping to end one song before starting another — and well-chosen material that, with help from the sparse, somewhat unorthodox instrumentation, Gartshore managed to bring new perspective to. Though it rarely felt rushed, it must have been a taxing venture — Gartshore chugged what felt like gallons of water between numbers. He proved a likeable, self-deprecating performer. Only a cheesy (and obviously planned) segue into the “Avenue Q” song “Schadenfreude” felt hammy and contrived. The song itself, though, was a nice change of pace. A clever mashup of “Orange Colored Sky” with Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” was one of the highlights.

Peter Fox 9:30 p.m. set “Be Yourself (Everyone Else is Taken)” was less varied and harried but just as delightful. He took a leisurely stroll through a 12-song evening of mostly standards accented with a few cuts from his solo EP and a couple pop covers. Not possessed of a particularly strong voice, he was sometimes overpowered by his three-man backing combo, but it was only a fleeting issue. Standouts were a gentle “Til There Was You” and a lightly grooving “On My Way Here” in which he and the players settled into their most cohesive balance of the night.

His strong suit is amicability and stage presence. Looking impossibly svelte, Fox proved a charming raconteur telling stories, introducing family members and making small talk. Even with an earnestness that some, no doubt, would find groan inducing, he comes off humble and authentic — you never get the sense he thinks he’s “all that” or that the cliched sentiments he often expresses are cliche to him at all. One of the highlights was his closing number — a coda-like excerpt of the Carpenters’ “Sometimes” that felt sweet, appropriate, tender and lacked even a whiff of irony. Lacking any discernible guile, Fox is an anachronism in the best sense of the term.

Will’s set:

1. Sitting On Top of the World
2.  Viva La Vida
3. King of the World
4. Ode to Shirlington
5. Theme from “Greatest American Hero”
6. Not While I’m Around
7. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
8. The Mason
9. Breaking Up is Hard to Do
10. The Other Other Woman
11. Landslide
12. My Heart
13. Schadenfreude
14. Orange Colored Sky/I Feel the Earth Move
15. Fix You
16. Mad Dogs and Englishmen
17. Strangelove/Bad Romance
18. Someone to Fall Back On
* Encore
19. Now You Know
20. Everybody Says Don’t

Peter’s set

1. The Kid Inside
2. The Way You Look Tonight
3. Someone to Watch Over Me
4. Around the World
5. I’ve Got the World on a String
6. Til There Was You
7. On My Way Here
8. Lean On Me
9. I Can Hold You
10. The Best is Yet to Come
11. Sometimes
* The Best is Yet to Come (piano outro reprise)

 

 

 

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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