Songs from an Unmade Bed
by Mark Campbell, et.al.
directed by Alan Patrick Kenny
New Stage Collective + Know Theatre of Cincinnati
February and August 2007
If I were in New York’s theatre district and happened onto “Songs from an Unmade Bed” in a cabaret space or piano bar, I would be completely charmed.
The song cycle is by lyricist Mark Campbell, writing with 18 different composers, on a theme of love. It’s theatrical because the songs are written from the point-of-view of a young, gay Manhattanite who is, by turn, lonely, in love, wistful, hopeful, lusting and always someone you want to spend an hour with as Alan Patrick Kenny introduces us to the marvelous mind of Campbell.
Kenny, in navy T-shirt and blue-heart bedecked pajama bottoms and bunny slippers, sits at the piano and interprets Campbell’s smart, honest and very often wry songs with plenty of fine support by cellist Brodie Johnson and percussionist Fletcher Kaufman.
Our hero sings about what we all feel – lives that are sometimes drab, memories and emotions called up when we find ourselves on the street where a lost love lived, the reality when a new love looks better with clothes on than off (but it’s still love), the comings and goings that are part of the search for permanence.
The melodies are large and small, easy and complex, playful and filled with surprises. Campbell loves words – somehow, in a song about the yearning for refeeling those lightning bolt feelings of first love, he manages to include “pharmaceutical,” “de-winterize” and “Zen” in the conversation. The cycle plays like a series of bright thoughts, nothing that’s belabored, by a fun-loving and hopeful spirit, drawn to finger-snappin’ groovy and lush, tender melancholy – and even the accordion.
We know Kenny as the producing artistic director of New Stage and as one of the best musical directors in town, and forget that he has a degree in vocal performance from New York University. He’s exactly right here as singer, actor and tour guide.
Alan Patrick Kenny is ideal in portraying the nameless character in this show. Even though he is almost constantly seated behind a piano accompanying himself, Mr. Kenny doesn't seem limited by this extra responsibility in acting out the many emotions of the role.
Through his body language, facial expressions and vocals, Kenny is able to wonderfully communicate the brokenhearted pain, comedic and biting sarcasm, and tenderness found within the material. His steady and pleasant vocals are delivered clearly throughout, and are just right for the songs.
Songs From An Unmade Bed is an entertaining show that challenges theatergoers by exploring the universal sacrifices and benefits of loving and giving ourselves to another, regardless of age, sexual preference, time or location. Alan Patrick Kenny gives a first-rate performance that is a comfortable fit for the material in every way.
Cincinnati Acclaim Award:
-Season’s Best Cabaret
Cincinnati Entertainment Award Nomination:
-Outstanding Alternative Show