Friday, October 23, 2020

mini review - BENJAMIN SCHEUER: IN CONCERT FROM LONDON - Arizona Theatre Company

by Gil Benbrook

Singer/songwriter Benjamin Scheuer and Arizona Theatre Company's artistic director Sean Daniels are friends who have also worked together; Daniels directed Scheuer in his one man show The Lion, which Scheuer wrote. That show has been performed across the country and in the UK and won a Drama Desk Award for “Outstanding Solo Performance” for its 2014 0ff Broadway production. 

As another example of the strength of Daniels' and Scheuer's friendship, Scheuer asked Daniels if he'd like to use his recent London solo concert as a benefit for Arizona Theatre Company. The filmed concert is streaming through Tuesday, October 27th at 5pm.

Like a modern day James Taylor or Jim Croce, Scheuer's tunes are well-composed story songs that tell either his own stories or stories of others. The theatrical, autobiographical and personable nature of his work makes each song incredibly intimate and relatable with lyrics that are simple yet precise with words and rhymes that are well thought out.  

Some of the songs in the concert come from the popular children’s books “Hundred Feet Tall” and “Hibernate with Me” that Scheuer wrote with his wife Jemima Williams. The concert also includes the upbeat, romantic "Hello Jemima" which is a beautiful love song Scheuer wrote shortly after meeting Williams.

While several numbers in the concert grew out of Scheuer's past, one of the most personable songs in the concert isn't one about Scheuer but a song about a woman he met in a coffee shop in New York, before he moved to London a year ago with his family. “I Am Samantha” tells the story of Samantha's journey as she transitioned. It's an inspiring and moving number and the single of the song and video were released this past March 31st, the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Songs in the concert from The Lion include the poignant "Cookie-tin Banjo" and the rousing "Weather The Storm". The appropriate "Empty Stage" serves as an encore and a beauitful yet bittersweet reminder of our current state of affairs.

Each song in the hour long concert brings the characters vibrantly to life while painting vivid images. This event was Scheuer's first time performing in public since the pandemic struck and the combination of Scheuer's natural performance style and his exceptional song writing makes one hope that Daniels can bring Scheuer and The Lion to ATC for a run in a future season.

CLICK HERE to watch Benjamin Scheuer: In Concert from London, which is available to view for free, though Arizona Theatre Company is accepting donations to help support their digital offerings and the safe return of theatre to their stages.

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