Joey Sack ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
For those of you who missed out on seeing the world premiere of “Baritones UnBound: Celebrating the Uncommon Voice of the Common Man” at the Paramount Theatre this past October, then rejoice, because the Baritones are about to perform outside of the Northeast, and may be coming to a stage near you soon.
“Baritones UnBound: Celebrating the Uncommon Voice of the Common Man,” which is equal parts concert, history lesson, and comedy, was first conceived by Marc Kudisch, an accomplished Broadway baritone, and written by Kudisch, along with Merwin Foard, Jeff Mattsey, and Timothy Splain. The show looks at the history of the baritone voice, often cited as the most common male voice part, and tracks its rise to prominence in popular culture and its apparent decline in the past few decades. The show received positive reviews and features music by Mozart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, and songs made popular by Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and others.
While on the surface it seems like just a concert of famous baritone songs, it is, in fact, much more. In the show, the audience is taken on a journey through music history with three powerful baritone singers as their guides, and they will crack jokes, act silly, and really engage the audience. The opportunity for this show, which was created in conjunction with ArtsEmerson, to go on tour to different parts of the country is a testament not only to the popularity of the show but also what high-quality performers work with ArtsEmerson and what kind of recognition it gets the program.
There have been some changes made in the months since the show’s initial run in Boston, according to David Dower, the director of Artistic Programs for ArtsEmerson. “The main changes since October have been related to the setting of Act One … A modest number of changes to the script and song list— we’re treating the Mozart section as a medley now to foreshadow the Sondheim section, for instance … But harmonies are changed, assignments in the song list are reworked, and some moments restaged. Plus we removed Sweet Caroline from the encore when we left Boston. But the biggest impact is really on the design level, with Act One now taking place in a cozy parlor setting, rather than the traditional concert environment of black curtains and black stools we had in Boston.”
Another change from the fall is the need to integrate a new baritone to the group, Mark Delavan, who is filling the role originally filled by Ben Davis. “Mark Delavan is a huge presence, physically and vocally,” says David Dower. “Where Ben Davis was the suave younger brother to Kudisch and Mattsey, Delavan is more their bad boy cousin from down home who gets everyone in trouble. And out of it. So there’s a kind of antic edge to the proceedings that emanates from him, this time, where that energy came from Kudisch in the earlier incarnation. Vocally he’s got a big rich sound in the lower register that gives a different texture to the harmonies.”
Starting June 7th and running until June 29th, Baritones UnBound will be performing at the Asolo Rep Theatre in Sarasota, Florida. From there, according to David Dower, “The show is ready for tour now and the company of Baritones that is prepared to do it has grown with this run.” Don’t be surprised to see the Baritones UnBound crew spreading the Baritone gospel all over in the near future.