with accompaniment by
Spending a lazy afternoon or evening in the company of Simon Green holds innumerable charms. In his new show Traveling Light, currently playing at 59E59’s Theater C as part of the Brits Off Broadway festival, this tall, lanky Englishman of song presents a program of songs devoted to travel – an idea which, to Green, encompasses not only physical travel but also flights of imagination.
At first listen, Green seems occasionally too eager to please. His exceedingly charming personality can be a tad bit much to handle at times, and at times the patter he’s written to intersperse between songs contains its fair share sentimental cliches. Nevertheless, if one can get past these minor quibbles, the experience of watching Simon Green for the ninety minute duration of his set is a comforting, transporting one that’s likely to leave one anything but disappointed.
Green, known for his interpretations of Noel Coward songs, peppers in a few choice Coward moments, including the clever patter song I Like America and the heart-stopping This Is To Let You Know. Along the way, there are songs by Kurt Weill, Sondheim, the Beatles, and others.
Some of the most touching musical moments come in the form of poems set to music. Green’s musical director David Shrubsole also has a gift for setting lyrics to lovely melodies; the poems chosen for this evening to be musicalized include ones by Rudyard Kipling, Pam Ayres, and Henry Charles Beeching.
In the end, it’s just Green, Shrubsole, and a Steinway piano, and that’s just fine. The theatre space has been set up like a cabaret, with tables and chairs interspersed throughout. Drinks menus feature overpriced cocktails, and ushers typically resigned to seating patrons now also take drink orders. It all makes for a rather posh evening at a reasonable price. Green’s easy, silky vocals make for a pleasant if less-than-earth-shattering diversion.