Musical Chairs Kicked Off Its Eleventh Season With Style


Jack Lyons Theatre & Film Critic

It’s been two years since Coachella Valley Impresario Derrik Lewis, creator and producer of the popular musical format known as “Musical Chairs”, lowered his baton and thanked his many loyal fans and patrons from the stage of the Annenberg Theatre saying that “Musical Chairs” would be back for an eleventh season.  However, due to the country’s economic doldrums and recession, he just didn’t know it would take two years to accomplish it.

     But all that’s behind him now.  With the economy beginning to recover, the signs of the times indicated that the eleventh season was indeed going to happen, and happen it did, with pizzazz and style.  On February 29th, fourteen professional performers and Show Host Lewis took the stage of the Indian Wells Theater, in Palm Desert and presented a first class tribute to the legendary composer/songwriter Jimmy Van Huesen (Frank Sinatra’s favorite composer), with a show entitled “Polka Dots and Moonbeams: The music of Jimmy Van Heusen”.

Derrik Lewis

Lewis filled the stage with familiar faces and local performing favorites including:  Francesca Amari, Darci Daniels, Michael Holmes, Deryl Jon Bair, Roger Bates, Joel Baker, Rick Eisenhart (known as the Desert Blend Quartette), Diane Burt, Theresa Danne, long time desert favorite, Baritone Richard Leibell, who recently moved back to the desert from Minneapolis, plus Lewis’ newest discovery Patrick Arendall, and the dance duo of Evan Knapp and Julia Olsen-Rodriguez.  The entire company brilliantly performed the thirty-seven songs and numbers, under the musical direction of Johnny Morris, one the country’s finest musical directors.

     It was a musical evening to remember.  And the toe-taping audience made sure the stars on the stage knew how much they were appreciated.  Everyone was musically transported back in time to a kinder and gentler America.  It was an era that sported such hit songs as: ”Swinging On A Star”, enthusiastically performed by the Musical Chairs singers, “All The Way”, sung by Michael Holmes, “High Hopes” sung by Joel Baker and the company, “Call Me Irresponsible”, again by Holmes, and all these wonderful songs were Academy Award winners from the pen of Jimmy Van Heusen. 

       The best news of all is that “Musical Chairs” is definitely back for its eleventh exciting season.  Coming Wednesday, April 4th is the Second Encore Concert, “I Love A Piano!” starring six world-class pianists in their salute to classical, ragtime, and jazz piano music.  Pianists Gale Enger, Johnny Morris, Robert Glenn, Derrik Lewis, Joel Baker, and Noah Yaghoubian will tickle the ivories presenting their interpretations of great music for the piano.  The show, also features singers Erik Bradley, Patty Gallagher, Elaine Wang-Meyerhoffer, Fleet Easton, Jean Sorf, Patrick Reese, Esther Yaghoubian, and Hanna Yaghoubian, along with Les Michaels and Jeff Stover.  “I Love A Piano” will feature a special appearance by noted jazz singer Mara Getz.  It should be an evening that music lovers will not want to miss.

     For reservations and ticket information call 760-883-1800.

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