Material: With New York classical recitals under his belt, Dutch born Hans Pieter Herman has successfully rolled the dice with his cabaret debut, The Flying Dutchman (No Wagner Allowed). In collaboration with Ira Siff, with his own opera company La Gran Scena, Herman delivered a brilliant mix of irreverent humor, charming self-flagellation and top-shelf singing. Traversing a musical landscape from beloved Broadway musicals to art songs and cheesy pop numbers, the juxtaposition of the legit and the comical netted an evening full of surprises. After a medley in Dutch of high-profile musicals like The Sound Of Music and Cats, Herman moves to another Dutch number, performing with utmost sincerity, subsequently delivering the English translation, I’d Like To Keep You In A Tiny Box, which had the crowd roaring with laughter. There is some Brahms (Vegas style), along with Schubert, Rachmaninov and more. “Listen To My Heart,” a ballad by David Friedman, offered a moving finish.
Musicianship: An opera-trained singer blessed with an angelic yet rich baritone voice, Herman faces obstacles due to hearing loss, though his tackling of every song seems effortless. Pianist and musical director Brian Holman provides strong support for Herman and plays a counterpart when side bar dialogue is required.
Performance: As the lights dimmed, a flight attendant’s voice came over the speakers, welcoming the audience to Air Pangea. The voice informed of limited oxygen masks, no life vests and instructed to leave valuables behind in case of an emergency. But most importantly: to place cell phones in airplane mode! With the announcement setting the tone, Herman graced the stage with his enthusiastic rendition of “Come Fly With Me.” In a business bent on pigeonholing artists, cabaret is more forgiving of eclecticism, and since some of the most interesting performers transcend the genres they’re plugged into, this is a plus. However, having already two sold-out shows, inventive marketing is called for to keep growing a fan base and avoid this pitfall.
Summary: Hans Pieter Herman has a powerful vehicle to go forward with, and while The Flying Dutchman will continue to work well in this type of venue, the challenge will be in finding a savvy marketing plan to move toward a larger arena. Catch this show again in October!
The Players: Hans Pieter Herman, vocals, co- writer; Brian Holman, piano, musical director; Ira Siff, director, co-writer.
Photo by Mark Shiwolich
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