He may not “write the songs that make the whole world sing,” but Guy LeMonnier will definitely give voice to the globally beloved songbook of Barry Manilow when he takes the stage at Flat Rock Playhouse Downtown the week of Valentine’s Day.
LeMonnier and a live band will work through the retrospective of easy-listening classics “Mandy,” “Copacobana,” and “I Made it Through the Rain” — but the shows will not see the man known for his parts in national touring productions of Beauty and the Beast and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde don a wig to recreate Manilow’s trademark wavy tresses, nor sport a pastel blazer to invoke the romantic crooner’s signature style of dress.
These performances are more about paying respect to the singer/songwriter’s work than wallowing in its sometimes kitschy accoutrements.
“In my experience, the Music on the Rock series has been less about impersonating the artist and more about an expressive — and dare I say ‘spiritual’ — treatment of the music,” says LeMonnier. (Further ahead in the season, the series will stage tribute shows featuring the music of Elton John, the Beach Boys, and Fleetwood Mac, among other icons.)
“It seems the audience rarely needs the obvious aesthetic to feel the way they did the first time they experienced a particular artist,” notes the singer.
LeMonnier is no stranger to the local stage. Though he has toured as a member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and had prominent roles in the TV series “Gotham,” as well as several independent films, he has also performed the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and even Elvis Presley at the playhouse.
And, as one might expect, these very Barry performances close to Valentine’s Day will not be the first time he’s delivered Manilow hits to Hendersonville hearts.
“Although I’ve sung from his repertoire in the past, I’ve never performed a whole show of his music, and I am looking forward to it,” he notes. “I’ll take romantic chords and soaring melodies anytime. Aside from adult-contemporary power ballads being my thing, I hope the quality of my voice lends itself to the emotional content in Barry’s songs.”
LeMonnier admits he has never seen the prolific Manilow perform in person (at the Copa or elsewhere) — but that will not diminish his celebration of that man’s oeuvre.
“Frankly, I find most all of his songs very gratifying to sing. But I certainly hope we include ‘Could it Be Magic’ — because it’s a very beautiful and haunting melody, and it’s right up my alley.”
Flat Rock Playhouse Downtown (125 South Main St.) presents The Music of Barry Manilow (starring Guy LeMonnier) as part of its Music on the Rock Series. Shows run February 11 (7:30pm), February 12 (8pm), February 13 (2 and 8pm), and February 14 (2pm). Tickets start at $28. For more information, see flatrockplayhouse.org or call 828-693-0731.