Quality Hill Playhouse opened its 2014 – 15 season based on “Magical Music from the Movies” with a show, entitled “Cheek to Cheek,” that features the music of Fred Astaire, but not just the music associated with him, but the music that Fred Astaire actually introduced to the public.
For this show, J. Kent Barnhart called talented percussionist, Ken Remmert, and probably the best bass player in Kansas City, Brian Wilson, to help them create the accompaniment for his three guest performers, Cary Mock, Shelby Floyd, and Stephanie Wienecke. With Barnhart at the piano, the vocalists and the combo members worked their way through so many songs that holds so many memories to so many people.
“Cheek to Cheek” opened Sept. 26 and runs through Oct. 26. Not to be missed, the show features the spectacular musical arrangements of Barnhart and demonstrates his knack to cast the perfect voices for each of his shows. Barnhart continues to amaze his audiences with his performances and selections.
Some of the songfest included: “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “I Won’t Dance,” “Isn’t It a Lovely Day?” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “Night and Day,” “Begin the Begine,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “The Continental,” “One for My Baby,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise,” “A Foggy Day,” “Funny Face,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” and “Stepping Out with My Baby.” Those are a few of the standouts in the show.
New to Quality Hill Playhouse, Stephanie Wienecke used her dynamic voice to croon “Smoke Get’s in Your Eyes” and then belt out “Something’s Got to Give,” demonstrating her performance levels and versatility. She also did some flirtatious pieces in several songs.
Not to be outdone, Shelby Floyd, in her second appearance at Quality Hill did outstanding solo work on “I Concentrate on You” and “Yesterdays.” She, too, did some flirtations with Barnhart and Mock in her dues and trio pieces.
Cary Mock always delivers top performance levels and for this show let go with some ballroom steps and some tapping. How could you do a Fred Astaire show without some dance moves. Mock’s strong voice fits quite nicely into this show. Admittedly, he’s a far superior singer than Astaire, but he knows how to deliver the Astaire standards.
Audience members do not need to recall the original Astaire movies or stage shows to know and appreciate what he gave to America. Fred Astaire always presented a suave, debonair appearance and sang and danced to perfection in the movies.
Barnhart gives enough background information as he introduces each set of numbers for the audience to follow along on the musical journey he’s set before them. It’s simple to just sit back and know you are in good hands when Barnhart begins his shows and then provides the smiles, laughs, and memories to create an enjoyable evening.
Many of the shows at Quality Hill draw packed auditoriums. “Cheek to Cheek” could be the most current to fill the facility to capacity most evenings. Everyone who attends is guaranteed to recognize a lot of the music, know a lot of the lyrics, and leave with smiles on their faces.