An Evening with Gavin Creel
Bay Area Cabaret
October 14, 2018
Devilishly charismatic Gavin Creel took us on his momentous ride; the awkward musical college student in Ohio, his first anxious, exciting trip the Big Apple and the audition song to his many successes on Broadway. Returning to San Francisco (where he starred as “Elder Price” in the national tour of The Book of Mormon) with a new cabaret act, Creel worked his way through contemporary renderings of the Great American Songbook accompanied wonderfully by longtime pal and musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Mean Girls, Finding Neverland, Company) on piano. With his congenial, easygoing style and humbling, self-deprecating humor, he won over the audience with an abundance of talent.
Creel is every musical theatre queen’s success-story dream. Small town boy from the Midwest moves to NYC and hits it big, winning a Tony as ‘Cornelius Hackl’ alongside Bette Midler, Kate Baldwin and David Hyde Pierce in the acclaimed Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!, two other Tony noms (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hair) and an Olivier Award (The Book of Mormon). That’s star big, but Creel retains his modesty and humility, expressing his gratitude for all that’s been heaped on his table.
Opening with “Not for the Life of Me”, from Thoroughly Modern Millie, the song coincidently echoes Creel’s own story; small town kid eager to make it big in NYC. Smartly working in some special San Francisco-based lyrics into Mel Torme’s “Lulu’s (Someone’s) Back in Town”, Gavin, who’s openly gay sang “I May Want to Remember Today”, a a song about new love from the 1977 musical revue Starting Here, Starting Now (Music by David Shire / Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr). From the same show, Creel performed what would become his audition song, “Today is the First Day” and it’s another tune that defines the anticipation of diving into life head first.
Reveling in his moment in the historic Venetian Room, which he called a “slightly Versailles moment”, Creel asked the audience to dial a friend in and share a song. He called his boyfriend Henry and sang him “It Only Takes a Moment” from Hello Dolly and The Beatles “Till There Was You”. Very sweet. Set highlights included Sondheim’s ode to NYC on “Another Hundred People” and Richard Rodgers “I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music, again with special lyrics.
I think Creel’s a hopeless romantic; in love with the gorgeous melodies of the Great American Songbook and Broadway, his adopted hometown of NYC and performing before a live audience. The first of his encores, Stephen Sondheim’s “What More Do I Need” said it all. He may still have that ‘Aw Shucks’, Midwest authenticity, but Creel is also a bonafide, urbane Broadway star.