Clint Holmes Celebrates Peter Allen Songbook at Feinstein’s

May 9, 2023

Clint Allen & Michael Orland. Photo by Tom Alvarez.

I felt like I was watching a masterclass in showmanship when I saw veteran vocalist Clint Holmes, accompanied by his music director Michael Orland on the piano in “Beyond the Moon and New York City,” Friday at Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael.

Best known for his hit single, “Playground of My Mind,” the one-time side kick of Joan Rivers on her late-night TV show, and Las Vegas mainstay, made his debut at Feinstein’s paying tribute to Peter Allen, an Australian singer-songwriter-musician and entertainer. Still vocally powerful and energetic, the 76-year-old entertainer showed that he can still perform with a vigor that could match someone much younger, proving that ageism is especially repugnant when it comes to measuring talent and longevity.

Clint Holmes & Michael Orland.  Photo by Tom Alvarez.

Playing to a sparse, yet appreciative crowd, Holmes regaled the audience with stories about his personal relationship with Allen and stories about the flamboyant singer (he died of AIDS in 1992), who was discovered by Judy Garland and was once married to her daughter Liza Minnelli. The son of an African American Jazz musician father and a white British opera singer who met in England where he was born, Holmes also shared information about his own fascinating life in the spotlight.

Holmes’s vastly entertaining program, during which he sang with so much passion that he broke into a sweat, was, surprisingly, not very long, His act consisted largely of songs written by Allen and included other popular hits, but the abbreviated show left me wanting more. Holmes’s act highlighted his versatility but also the substantial talents of Orland, a former “American Idol” coach for 16 seasons, who plays for other major performers such as Kristin Chenoweth. Included in the set were Holmes’s often poignant and moving interpretations of “Bi-Coastal,” “The More I See You,” a medley of “Arthur’s Theme/I Honestly Love You/I’d Rather Leave While I’m I Love,” “I Go to Rio,” “1944,”  “Fly Away,” and “The Lives of Me (Reprise)/Before I Go.”

Connecting with the audience with his exemplary storytelling, Holmes was affable and charming as he captured the essence of Allen, the entertainer and human being. It is unfortunate that the house was not larger on the first of two nights he and Orland held court at Feinstein’s. Considering that they were leaving Carmel to travel to NYC for a four-day stint at 54 Below, it is unfortunate they did not draw a bigger crowd here.

As far as yours truly, I felt so many connections to Holmes’s show, starting with the fact that Orland is the vocal coach for Carmel native Amelia Wray, whom I have covered here. The 17-year-old, known locally for her community theatre appearances, and nationally as a former Disney Channel actor, made her Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael debut in February and in March made her Hollywood debut at the Catalina Jazz Club (accompanied by Orland), both times as a special guest of Anthony Nunziata. Nunziata happens to be the twin brother of Will Nunziata, who directed Holmes’s show and is making a name for himself in New York City. Look for interviews with both Orland and Nunziata soon in this column. Anthony is returning to Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael with Wray as special guest once again on June 16 and 17. Finally, it was recently announced that Wray is to be featured in the Carmel Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert in December.

photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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