A colleague once said that there’s an unwritten adage in Manhattan: For every cockroach, there’s a starving artist trying to make his way through the masses. Said title applies to Michael Ian Walker and Kyle Ewalt, a tandem who collectively have remained under the surface without much fanfare or acclaim.
Though Walker’s play Blackout was seen off-Broadway and critically lauded, he’s still not a household name. Ewalt on the other hand has written music for the dance/electronica group Kyven and also pens songs for numerous record labels, still without a national following. But all of that might change after viewing a performance of “An Evening with Ewalt and Walker: Just a Couple of Dudes Who Like to Write Songs,” which took to the Playwrights Horizon’s mainstage last night and showed many glimpses of ensuing stardom.
Using mostly songs from their forthcoming project The Making of Madeline Moore, a Gossip Girl-like tale of New York City socialites and their travails and foibles, the tandem displayed an inherent knack for writing hook-based melodies that seem perfectly suited for Broadway and a loyal following. Even on songs that weren’t attached to a script, such as the four songs written as a response to the novel A Separate Peace, there was a charisma and energy to their songs that seemed tailor-made for amphitheaters and stadiums.
Of course the night would not have been triumphant had it not been for the stellar cast. Lending their talents were: Matt Doyle (Spring Awakening/Bye Bye Birdie), Jackie Burns (Hair), Melissa Lone (A Chorus Line/Mary Poppins), Adam Kantor (Rent), Kevin Greene (Grease: You’re the One That I Want/For Lovers Only), John Scacchetti (Gypsy), Molly Pope (Our Hit Parade), MAC Award winner Jonathan Whitton, Christopher Totten, Nicole Hurst, Guy Olivieri, and other stars of Broadway and cabaret.
Aided by the deft piano playing of David Lerman, each of the 14 songs performed had enough gusto and gravitas to transcend the ever-difficult inner Broadway circle. Fueled by wit, charm and innate songwriting chops, Ewalt and Walker seem destined for national acclaim. Let the waiting game begin.
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