The Hippo


Jun 4, 2020








A past production of The Four Piano Men. Courtesy photo.

See The All New Piano Men

Where: The Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester
When: Showtimes this weekend are Friday, June 5, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 6, at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, June 7, at 2 p.m. The show continues through June 20.
Admission: $15 to $45
Contact:, 668-5588

Piano men return
Palace Theatre ends season with Carl Rajotte original

By Kelly Sennott

For the Palace Theatre’s centennial year season finale, it presents one of the most popular shows in Palace history: The All New Piano Men, an original concert-like production by artistic director Carl Rajotte.

Returning are the two headliners from 2012’s The Four Piano Men: Kyle Martin, who will play music by Elton John and Billy Joel (outside of theater, Martin performs in a Billy Joel tribute band called Joel) and Garrit Guadan, who will perform the songs of the other two featured piano men, Freddie Mercury and Stevie Wonder. 
The event will be like a sensationalized concert, and you can count on hearing all these artists’ most famous pieces — like “Uptown Girl” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”  — in addition to a new section dedicated to other piano men like Bob Seger, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Barry Manilow.
“It’s all about the music and the spectacle, and providing that sort of concert experience in the theater,” Guadan said via phone. 
Guadan has also been acting as music director for recent Palace shows like West Side Story and Godspell and Les Miserables. He’s music director for this show as well but is anxious to get back on stage.
“I love music directing, but as I get older, I’m beginning to want to focus on performing a little more. I live in New York City, and it’s nice to have a break from the city and do music directing at the Palace — it’s been a great season to music direct — but I’m happy to be performing again,” Guadan said. 
Piano Men is actually the first show Guadan did with the Palace three years ago. The Freddie Mercury medley is his favorite set.
“I grew up on that music,” he said. “‘We are the Champions’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust,’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘Somebody to Love’ … It’s energetic, and when it’s happening, the adrenaline is there. It’s the most fun you can have on stage,” he said. “When it’s over, you’re like, ‘I can’t believe that happened. I can’t wait until tomorrow night!’”
His phone interview occurred just a week and a half before opening night. During most shows at the Palace, cast and crew have two weeks to finish the sets and costumes and learn the show. Because of the nature of this one — no dialogue, just music — the band, who will be propped up onstage with the piano men, wouldn’t arrive until just a week before showtime. He didn’t think it would take long for everyone to learn the material.
“When we get there for the first band rehearsals, we’re going to get there and we’re going to jam. It’s going to be great,” he said. “When you have a team like what we have here — everyone supporting you and just giving wonderful energy — it makes the whole process fun and easy, even though it’s so short.”
Martin and Guadan will be center stage all night long, performing solo acts (each song has its own stylistic lighting and costumes) and also pseudo piano duels. Backing them up will be a handful of dancers, and two Palace Teen Company alums — Sarah Libby, who goes off to college next year, and Daniel Schwartzberg, who graduated a few years ago — will perform as backup singers.
Guadan said he was grateful to have been part of this 100th season, both as a performer and music director.
“Music directing the whole season was an awesome opportunity. I don’t know how long I would have had to wait to be able to do that in the city. I love working with Carl — he’s such a fun guy to work with. Whenever we get together for production meetings, we always have the same visions,” he said.
As seen in the June 4, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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