BEVERLY HILLS, CA-It was “Taxi Driver” meets “Goodfellas” meets “Casino” meets “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
“For The Record: Scorsese, American Crime Requiem” premiered at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. A combination cabaret, rock concert, drama, nightclub, Vegas showroom, and musical that showcased Martin Scorsese’s silver screen hits.
It explored over 40 years of his storytelling and stars an eclectic mix of artists from the worlds of music, stage and screen performing an epic setlist.
The performance marries classic scenes from each film with the songs from the soundtracks, some with a Broadway slant. A creative twist to the original music.
Get there early because patrons will experience entertainment in the lobby (a delightful accordionist) and dining outside on the Promenade Terrace.
It was an Italian theme. The tables were set up with an Italian flavor, covered with red-and-white classic-checkered tablecloths, candlelight, while music and films of Scorsese played on one wall. A romantic ambiance was felt.
There were many bright spots in the production. The frontman was Jason Paige playing Joe Pesci’s characters, especially from “Goodfellas.” Paige nailed his accent and violent/comedic personality. The “I’m funny how, I mean funny, like I’m a clown? I amuse you, I make you laugh?” scene was hysterical. Paige also has a good singing voice.
Pia Toscano (American Idol) as Karen from “Goodfellas” also was very impressive. She has a great stage-presence and a lovely voice, especially her rendition of the country standard, “I’m Sorry.” And if you attend a Kings hockey game at Staples Center, you will be treated to her singing the national anthem. She is a fan-favorite.
Carmen Cusack as Ginger from “Casino” presents a friendly challenge to Toscano with her rendition of the Patsy Cline hit, “Sweet Dreams.” She, along with the entire cast are accomplished actors and singers.
Another standout was three-time Grammy nominee B. Slade as Stacks. He brought a soulful rendition to many songs, but especially to “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man,” which was sung during the scene as the actors are experimenting and hallucinating on drugs.
Kudos must also go to set designer Kyle Courter. Courter created a very functional multi-level set. The first level had a bar, the night club/Vegas showroom on the second and the live band on top. Some patrons bought tickets that seated them on the stage at cabaret tables, right on top of the action.
It was very creative how Scorsese’s violent films were partnered with song and dance. It will be interesting to see what journey this production takes when its run ends at the Wallis…maybe to Broadway.
Steven LIeberman is a veteran sports/arts/entertainment journalist. Lieberman has covered entertainment and professional sports, Including the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, for the past 14 years. Among his entertainment work, Lieberman covers concerts, theatre and events.