A Call to Places

What makes this show so different from the usual Mac-Haydn fare?

By Andrew Andrews

Gabe Belyeu stars in his debut concert, A Call to Places, directed by John Saunders. Rachel Pantazis and Andrew Burton Kelley provide backing vocals, with Music Director Eric Shorey’s band (Shorey, Hannah Burke, Cindy Elliott and Alex Atchley) supplying live accompaniment. Original photos by Ann Kielbasa.

Gabe Belyeu has performed in Chatham for more than ten years over a span twice as long.

That’s more than sixty different productions and countless performances, for an exponentially greater number of filled seats.

It’s no wonder, then, that Belyeu would develop a fan base here. Whether you’re a first year guest of the Mac-Haydn Theatre who only knows the actor from his recent roles in The Full Monty, Next to Normal and Urinetown, or a long-time attendee who remembers him as Nicely Nicely in Guys and Dolls and Gomez in The Addams Family, Tateh in Ragtime and Cervantes in Man of La Mancha, you know that Gabe knows how to put on a show.

And you know the man can sing!

It’s no wonder, too, then, that Mac-Haydn would give Belyeu a show of his own, for him to sing his lil’ heart out for an audience full of adoring fans.

This reporter included.

Belyeu has chosen travel—for vacation, work, escape or necessity—as the theme that unifies the twelve numbers in this intimate musical revue.

Really, though, at least eighteen different songs are represented here, because many of those “numbers” are medleys—even mashups—that seamless merge multiple songs into a single, unified piece.

Some of the songs you’re almost certain to recognize: I’ve Been Everywhere (which Belyeu explains was not originally recorded by Johnny Cash), Sweet Home Alabama (his actual home state), a medley of three Frank Sinatra tunes (about his adopted home state), and a rendition of Into the Mystic, that—believe it or not—sounds better than Van Morrison himself.

If you’re lucky enough to get the encore—and I won’t give it away!—let’s just say that it, too, seemed to me a more powerful interpretation than the version you already know and love.

You’ll also hear the best description of Tel Aviv that anyone is likely to come up with!

If you already know Belyeu’s work, then attending this show is like dancing in your seat to a familiar regular performer at the local dive bar, or watching a favorite artist on MTV Unplugged.

If you don’t already know what he’s capable of, then catching this production is like strolling into a random night club and discovering a new favorite.

Either way makes for a enjoyable evening, so don’t miss one of the two remaining performances of this very limited run.

4

Andrew Andrews attended A Call to Places at Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham on Wednesday, August 24, 2022 @ 7:00pm to write this review.