Lactose intolerant theatre goers beware, The Tabard Theatre Company is serving up an extra helping of cheese with their current musical endeavor! That’s right, if you like your schmaltz laid on extra thick, you’ll love I Left My Heart… A Tribute to Tony Bennett.
I Left My Heart… is by no means intended to be a Tony Bennett impersonation show, but rather as the subtitle indicates a tribute to him. Three gentlemen sing an impressive selection of Bennett songs (both familiar and a few not-so-much) including passionate solos and well blended harmonies.  The men sell their songs earnestly and whole-heartedly and while I wager you’ll have your favorite song or singer, they all carry the show with just enough wink and the perfect dose of smile. The all-male cast is accompanied by an all-male, four member musical combo that is all at once suave, sharp and executes their notes precisely.

The song sets are interspersed with light narration consisting of a story about, a quote by or a kitschy “did you know” kind of tidbit pertaining to Tony.  I actually wanted much more of this kind of content, not only to break up the singing just a bit more, but because I think in general  the stories behind a song can really enhance one’s enjoyment of it. I was previously unaware of many of the factual morsels relayed by the personable and airy-mannered cast and it left me wanting to know more.  Per one of Tabard’s main strengths and missions, the educational component of this show, albeit a bit light, contributes to my new-found respect for Bennett and his journey into stardom.

I did find the first half of the show slightly more fun, more colorful and better paced than the second half. The tongue-in-cheek choreography of the first half was simple and upbeat, but was mostly replaced with sitting or standing with a mic in the second half. It also felt like there were fewer duets and trios (which I had enjoyed in the first half) in the second part. Act One might have been seemed more Musical Theatre, while Act Two was firmly situated in Cabaret

This show, while completely appropriate for kids, probably won’t interest too many of them, so I’d suggest making it a date night or a evening with friends and leaving the younins at home.

The glamorous, nostalgic mood set by the cool lighting and the classy, smooth lines of the stage are inviting and relaxing, helping to easy you mind from life to “Left”. At under two hours including intermission, there’s really nothing heavy about this show at all and that’s a nice change of pace with all the high-octane, cerebral, dense-topic theatre that’s out there right now.

Short and sweet, this show gets a 4 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for a laid back evening you don’t have to think or strain or keep up with, but rather can just sip on your drink and embrace a remarkable number of favorite songs that happen to have all been recorded by a single magnificent man. I Left My Heart… plays only through January 27th at the Theatre on San Pedro Square in Downtown San Jose.

**The Theatre does validate at the public lot across the street on non garage flat rate  “event” nights.


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