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January 16, 2014 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-01-16

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Eric Gutman opens JCC Stephen Gottlieb Music
Series with a world premiere about finding fame
— and then giving it all up to come back home.


Suzanne Chessler
Contributing Writer


ric Gutman considers himself a
tried-and-true man of Michigan,
but he wants to share memories
of the times he transformed himself into a
Jersey Boy.
Gutman, who had theatrical training in
his home state and continues to perform at
area venues, realized many career dreams
while appearing on tour and on Broadway
with the show Jersey Boys, featuring the
enduring songs of the Four Seasons pop-
rock band that became hugely popular in
the mid-'60s and recalling its members'
New Jersey history.
Much more of the entertainer's stage
experiences — and what took him from
and brought him back to Michigan —
will be the subject of a musical show he
has put together: Eric Gutman: From
Broadway to Obscurity.
Gutman, accompanied by a four-piece
band, will present the narrative with music
at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, and 2 and 6 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 26, at the Berman Center for
the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield.
"I think a lot of people will be able to
identify with the stories that affected me
says Gutman, 36, who lives in Huntington
Woods with his wife, Sarah, and two
"There are 24 songs in the show — the

Frankie Valli songs I've sung thousands of
times and some songs I've never performed
before. They all help further my story.
"In 75 minutes, I'll tell about my quest
to get better as a performer and the rea-
sons I moved on from my original dream.
I'm really looking forward to telling that
story and having people take the journey
with me:"
Gutman will be joined by Jamie Reed as
music director and pianist, Jeff Sugamosto
on guitar, Greg Weipert on bass and Nick
Matthews on drums.
The actor-singer, whose many roles reach
from Forbidden Broadway 2001 to Next to
Normal, was commissioned to tell his story
by the Berman. He had done a similar proj-
ect for a Kalamazoo theater, and informa-
tion about the program was passed along.
Gutman, a graduate of Harrison High
School in Farmington Hills, knew acting
was for him when he played the role of
Danny in a school production of Grease.
While a sophomore at Western Michigan
University, where he received a bachelor's
degree in musical theater performance,
Gutman won a scholarship by placing first
in the Midwest segment of the American
College Theater Festival Irene Ryan
To win, Gutman did a monologue from A
Midsummer Night's Dream and a scene from
Brighton Beach Memoirs. He was required
to recite contrasting presentations.

The actor went on to receive the 1997
Theatre Guild Scholarship, 1998 Beverly
Belson Music Theatre Scholarship and
the 1999 Western Michigan University
Presidential Scholar Award.
Gutman is the grandson of another type
of singer, the late Cantor David Gutman of
the now-closed Congregation Beit Kodesh
in Livonia.
The younger Gutman picked up on reli-
gious performance interests by teaching
theater at Temple Kol Ami and organizing
a Purim play for junior high students. His
daughters — Riley, 4, and Sydney, 3 —
attend preschool at Temple Emanu-El in
Oak Park.
On the secular side, the singer/actor has
performed in musicals and serious dramas,
including a revue at the Barn Theatre in
Augusta, Mich., and How to Succeed in
Business Without Really Trying, Broadway
Cabaret and Meet Me in St. Louis at the
Timber Lake Playhouse in Illinois.
Part of his current work routine are com-
mercials, with his voice heard for DTE,
Belle Tire and La-Z-Boy.
"I've learned how to learn shows very
quickly, and I've learned how to stay on my
toes [figuratively] from working on Detroit
revues:' Gutman says.
Although reluctant to name the songs
he will be performing as part of his story,
Gutman does mention "Broadway, Here I
Come introduced in the TV series Smash.

Eric Gutman presents

his show Jan. 25-26

at the Berman Center.

"The lyrics spoke to me, recalling how I
made the switch from the national tour of
Jersey Boys (with songs such as 'Big Girls
Don't Cry' and 'Sherry') to Broadway:' says
Gutman, whose day job is brokering tickets.
"I've never sung the TV song in front of an
audience before this:'
Preparing the new production has been a
months-long project for Gutman, who will
be the resident music theater director when
the Maccabi Games return to Michigan this
year. He will be producing a full-scale show
with Jewish youth from around the world.
"I think of the show about me as a bless-
ing, and I feel humbled to be doing this in
my community:' he says. "I'm hoping that
I'll be able to market this production to
other theaters across the country as they fill
in their seasons.
"I didn't write it with the Berman or West
Bloomfield in mind. I wrote it with just the
idea that I am one performer in a sea of
performers, and this is my story:"

Eric Gutman: From Broadway to
Obscurity will be performed at 8
p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, and 2 and
6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, at the
Berman Center for the Performing
Arts on the campus of the Jewish
Community Center in West
Bloomfield. $22-$27. (248) 661-
1900; theberman.org .

2014 Stephen Gottlieb Music Series Schedule


magine Barbra Streisand, Ethel
Merman, Sophia Loren, Beverly Sills,
Bernadette Peters, Liza Minnelli,
Mother Teresa, Patti Smith and Indira
Gandhi — all in one woman.
Andrea Martin is known as an award-
winning singer, Broadway, film and televi-
sion star. But she's also a master of come-
dy famous for her spot-on impersonations
of all these celebrities — and more.

Martin, along with Sirius XM Radio
star Seth Rudetsky, is set to appear this
May with the Jewish Community Center
of Metropolitan Detroit's Stephen Gottlieb
Music Series, where she will sing, enter-
tain and talk about her life as an actress
(including roles in My Big Fat Greek
Wedding, Sesame Street, Star Trek:
Deep Space Nine, Wag the Dog and 30

The JCC Stephen Gottlieb Music Series
began as a 14-day festival but is making
a big change this year: It's becoming a
"The music festival is excited to change
its look to a series, offering music over
five months rather than the traditional
two-week festival:' said the event's direc-
tor, Linda Levy. "The flexibility allows us
to book the best in musical entertainment

and gives our patrons the opportunity to
attend more events.
"The 2014 season offers such diverse
programming as the Haifa Symphony
Orchestra, here for its first-ever tour in
the United States; the Broadway stylings
of Danny Gurwin; and the humor and
music of two-time Tony Award-winner
Andrea Martin, fresh from her winning
role in Pippin," she said.

2014 Music Schedule on page 44

January 16 • 2014


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