By Ed Kliszus
Eli Bolin Has No Friends at Feinsteins/54 Below is a great name for a show starring Emmy-nominated composer Eli Bolin who clearly has many friends! Tonight’s program featured a coterie of gifted artists including his wife and chanteuse Allison Posner. Bolin even showed us a picture of his wife and two children on an apple picking venture. As the show unwound, it was like a fun family reunion picnic of Saturday Night Live, Second City Television, and a dash of Uncle Floyd, where everyone takes turns showing what they can do to make everyone smile and better off than when they arrived.
Here is the amazing cast of tonight’s luminaries:
Ashley Blanchet (Waitress, Disney’s Frozen)
Ava Briglia (School of Rock, Matilda in Matilda the Musical)
Jake Ryan Flynn (Mrs. Doubtfire, Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Julie Klausner (“Difficult People”)
Andrew Kober (Beetlejuice, Sunday in the Park with George)
Chrissy Pardo (Eli Bolin Has No Friends)
Paula Pell (“Saturday Night Live,” “Girls 5eva”)
Shereen Pimentel (Maria in West Side Story, “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch”)
Allison Posner (“The Magnificent Seven”)
Jed Resnick (Fairview, Avenue Q)
Zuri Washington (Bat Out of Hell national tour)
Kudos to the production team! The show was live and live-streamed with great camera angles, closeups, sound, and lighting. During Covid times artists used live-streaming and produced videos that reached new technical heights to share their creative and artistic voices. Tonight’s performance took advantage of those tools. I thought of the many who would love to attend personally but are geographically or physically challenged to do so—now they can view comfortably from home and enjoy a joyous evening of mirth and music with the greatest talents.
Feinstein’s/54 Below was packed with an audience dining and chatting as they waited for the show to begin. Lights dimmed and Bolin emerged to introduce the show. He spoke about the varied inspirations for the songs like a series of personal letters, his musical productions, a bit of politics, relationships, and seemingly, life itself.
Bolin’s songs ranged from gentle sentimentalism and raucous energy to plays on words and charming spoofs. After all, who sings about their dining preference for noodles and butter or about the relationship between Hannibal and Agent Clarisse?
Before the finale, Bolin spoke about his early days in New York, about roommates struggling to pay the bills, and so hungry he ate the brownies his roommate baked to sell. He spoke about writing music and then shelving a rejected jingle for Lipton Tea.
Jen Resnick and Alison Posner sang the hilarious Lipton Tea jingle song.
Humor, charm, friends, family, and contemporary references—-cell phones, face time relationships, organic monster parties, and new-age foods like hummus—they forgot to mention avocado on toast and man hair buns.
Eli Bolin Has No Friends at Feinstein’s/54 Below
Featuring the music and lyrics of Eli Bolin
Drums Jeff Roberts, electric bass Brendan O’Grady, guitars Mike Pettry (also co-author and arranger), piano and music director Dan Pardo.
54 W 54th St. NYC 10019
Tickets and information are available at www.54Below.com or call (646) 476-3551.