Fort Worth — Casa Mañana has been on a roll with its cabaret programming. In December there was A Dean Martin Christmas, which was perfect for the holidays. And just in time for Valentine’s Day comes the powerhouse entertainer Spencer Day and his show Broadway Reimagined. Throughout the night, Spencer takes Broadway classics and performs them in styles that differ from the way they first conceived.
He begins with an upbeat and chipper “Getting to Know You” from The King and I. We then start to learn about Day, and his confessions about growing up Mormon and living in the “middle of nowhere” add humor and warmth. His mashup of “Let Me Entertain You” (Gypsy) and a Mormon hymn shows his gifts as an arranger.
Day also plays the piano with flair and finesse. He is backed by Alex Frank on stand-up bass and local musicians Tom Birchall on guitars and John Bryant on drums. They make an effective combo and are clearly having fun with odd arrangements.
A highlight of these were “Bali Ha’i” from South Pacific performed in a bossa nova style; and an original take on “I’d Be Surprisingly Good for You “ from Evita. The musical choices and arrangements really enhance the cabaret experience. Day is a natural performer and he works the intimate room of the Reid Cabaret beautifully. The first half of the show closes out with a charming arrangement of “If I Loved You” from Carousel and an original song. Several times Spencer shows off his songwriting by performing his original songs. Some are about his life and some were written for other performers — they are all quite good.
The second half opens with “One” from A Chorus Line. He does a number especially for the Fort Worth audience that had the Wednesday audience in stitches, and then effortlessly blends it into Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.” He then sings a few more original songs, including one about the notorious Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles; his stories of working in LA, New York City and London are charming. He still has some of the childhood wonder from growing up a world away.
And just when you think it couldn’t get any better, Day does an impromptu medley of codependency songs that made great fun of some of the silly lyrics in popular love songs. The audience ate it up.
I do wish this was running for more than one weekend. Here’s hoping he’ll be back before next Valentine’s Day. There is one more performance on Friday and two on Saturday night — score tickets if you can!