By Bob Evans
Get ready to cheer the music of the WWII times with J. Kent Barnhart and his spectacular cast for “As Time Goes By,” as they harmonize in an evening that takes the audience to the 1940s with well-known songs and Barnhart’s charming commentary on unknown facts.
One of the amazing parts of this show is to listen to Barnhart’s young cast perform songs written well before they were born. While many of the older audience members attach special times, memories, and/or singers to the songs performed, the four performers had to blend their voices and find their own comfort level in the music.
For this show, Barnhart assembled probably the most harmonious cast over the past five years. Individually, each can carry a show, but together as a quartet, their voices mellowed and blended into sounds similar to the Big Band Era and the vocal performances of The Jordainaires, Modernaires, and the Pied Pipers. Those old enough to remember those groups know the type of music contained in “As Time Goes By.”
As for the cast, “As Time Goes By” features Patrick Beasley, Lauren Braton, Kathryn Long, and Vigthor Zophoniasson. For the back up, J. Kent Barnhart on keyboards, Matt Baldwin on clarinet and saxophone, Ken Remmert on percussion, and Brian Wilson on bass.
Musical selections for the show could not be better. When the first song is “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” one can expect even more famous tunes. After that, Doris Day’s big hit, “Sentimental Journey,” continues the evening. That was followed by, “The Way You Look Tonight,” “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” “This Time the Dream’s on Me,” “You’ll Never Know,” “A Nightingale Sang in Barkley Square,” “Tuxedo Junction,” and more. The first act moved along quickly and the music kept the audience focused.
As always, Act II seems to ramp up the audience, and the music in “As Time Goes By,” certainly did that, starting with the title song, “As Time Goes By,” followed by “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You,” “Moonlight in Vermont,” “Dream,” “How about You?” “Over There,” and more. In this act, all of the performers had the chance to deliver more solos than in act I. Patrick crooned “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You,” and nailed the soft tones for that song. Lauren let loose with “Dream” and her clear soprano could not have been in better tune. Kathryn gave a romantic spin to “Moonlight in Vermont,” and her duet with Vigthor for “How about You?” was a beautiful blending of two operatic voices singing pop music.
And, “As Time Goes By” featured a band that put the sound over the top. Barnhart’s arrangements were splendid. Remmert on percussion cut loose on some interludes and drew lots of attention. Wilson, one of the best bassists in town always delivers a solid performance. This was no exception. But the addition of Matt Baldwin on saxophone and clarinet gave the big band music the added touch needed to create the ambiance Barnhart desired for this show.
The only weakness of the show is that this reviewer wanted more. I guess that’s the key: Leave ‘em wanting more. I did. I wanted to hear each vocalist let loose and belt a song, but, that would deviated from the harmonious quartet’s performance and the theme of the evening. With this selection of performers and the talent of their voices, how could anyone get enough?
“As Time Goes By” continues through May 21. The show will be one of the year’s most popular. Ticket demand should be strong and advance reservations need to be made. Dates, times, prices and more information is available via the Quality Hill Playhouse website.
Tags: Kansas City Performing Arts; Quality Hill Playhouse, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, “As Time Goes By”