Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Joel Grey came back and they're glad he did
Cleveland Press October 13, 1973
So identified is he with the satanic master of ceremonies in "Cabaret" and the strutting hero of "George M" that some persons may have forgotten the real Joel Grey who brought life to those roles.
Well, sir, there is a real Joel Grey and the talented, energetic, feisty little entertainer (5 feet, 5 inches tall, he informs his audience right away) was in Cleveland last night wearing a path in the Music hall stage and causing more than a little wear on the audience's hands as they applauded.
The former Clevelander and one time Play House actor was here to do a benefit show for that theater. It was an evening in which everyone benefited.
There is, in the present generation of performers, no one quite like Joel Grey. The song-and-dance man is almost extinct, and as for actors who can really sing a song and break into a dance and do them well -- there just aren't any.
For almost 55 minutes Grey held the stage. I don't think he ever stopped moving and one song tumbled out right after another. No dancing chorus provided a breather. There was no monologue to allow him to stand still and rest.
Naturally there was plenty of material that he had done in Broadway shows. He sang a medley of Anthony Newley numbers. having replaced that performer in both "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off" and The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd." The songs are big numbers, the kind a singer likes to belt out, the sort that call for a big voice Grey made them sound as though he had a patent on them -- "Gonna Build a Mountain," "What Kind of Fool Am I?" and 'Who Can I turn To?"
But early in the show he crooned an old ballad, "Our Love Is Here To Stay," and it sounded so warm and comfortable the way he did
The "George M" routine is a whole different thing. He struts, he prances, he tap dances. On top of trunk that s been turned on end (the trunk is his only prop, he sat, a derby down over his eyes, singing "Give My Regards to Broadway." He sang "Harrigan' as he changed into dancing shoes, tore up the stage marching and strutting as he sang "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy."
A trademark of a Joel Grey performance is a certain playfulness, as though he's having more fun than anyone. Consider the happy look on his face, the rolling eyes as he warbled some thing called "Doodlededoo." Talk about a change of pace!
The "Cabaret" role he saved for last. The evil leer spread across his face and he sang his welcome song as it dripped with decadence. This is the role that provided Grey with both a Tony Award and an Academy Award, the role that required the services of an actor as well as a singer.
Just before the standing ovation he spoke a few words about old ties in Cleveland, sang "We May Never Meet Again" and left everyone happy.
Like most of these musical revues, the Joel Grey portion occupied the final half. The opening part was occupied by comedian Guy Marks who is a combination of satirist, impersonator mimic, mime and singer. He calls upon some a great natural talent and a very flexible voice as he imitated everything from an air drill to all the actors in a movie (Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Robert Mitchum), and then to the entire cast of the Metropolitan Opera.
His material is his own and it is funny, satiric and sometimes varying in taste.