While Gillett has made his name in clubs, on Broadway (where his credits include Kiss Me, Kate and Sweet Smell of Success), and in the world of the circus -- both as a longtime ringmaster of Ringling Bros. and the current director of the Big Apple Circus' Dance On -- he comes by his love of the movies naturally, having grown up in Culver City, just blocks from the MGM lot.
Here, he expresses his decades-long romance with the big screen from quoting old movie lines (including a priceless recreation of two scenes from All About Eve) to a spirited rendition of Craig Carnelia's salute to Hollywood, "Old Movies," to Barry Kleinbort's clever medley of supposedly "forgotten" movie themes.
A remarkable interpreter with an actor's training, Gillett soars highest when performing character-driven and story songs, such as Carnelia's "Blood on the Moon," about an actor looking back on his life with pride and regret; Amanda McBroom and Gordon Hunt's gorgeous "Errol Flynn," in which the adult narrator remembers the life of his father, a supporting player in old Tinseltown; and, most notably, Keith Carradine's Oscar-winning "I'm Easy."
He smartly delivers some timeless standards with great skill, including "What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life," "Three Coins in the Fountain," and a truly haunting take on "Theme From Valley of the Dolls," as well as such lesser-known gems as "Somewhere in Time," "My Favorite Year" (sadly cut from the film of the same name), and "One More Hour" (from the film version of Ragtime).
And while I don't think Gillett's admittedly risky decision to include John Kander and Fred Ebb's "New York, New York" pays off, he sums his show up beautifully with one of the pair's least-known tunes, "At the Rialto" (from the musical All About Us), which is as heartfelt a tribute to the joys of moviegoing that one can wish for.