As the title of his Broadway limited engagement proclaims, Danny Gans is indeed a man of many voices. Boasting a repertoire of more than 200 voices, the impressionist races through what feels like nearly all of them in quick one- or two-line snippets (a few get a more thorough going-over). His sound bites are generally on target, but Gans’ too-familiar approach and hackneyed comedy can’t impersonate a production worthy of a Broadway stage.
Gans, the type of performer who once would have been a TV variety show mainstay, tours America playing to corporate gatherings (his Broadway stint is sponsored in part by United Airlines). Vegas can’t be far off: The show seems tailor-made for the casino crowd with its corny jokes, inoffensive manner and takeoffs on Wayne Newton, Sammy Davis Jr. and, of course, Elvis.
Although the genre staples are all too plentiful — George Burns, Jimmy Stewart, et al. — Gans does toss in some relative newcomers (Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Cole, Al Jarreau).
A decent singer (backed by a three-piece combo), he’s at his best when mimicking musical stylists (Sarah Vaughan, Anita Baker, Rod Stewart), even if his Sinatra is oddly lacking. Imitations of non-singers such as Al Pacino and Tom Hanks fall short, in no small part due to lackluster material. Slurs a drunk Dean Martin:”I saw a sign the other day that says Drink Canada Dry. Okey-doke.” Etc.
Gans is a pleasant enough performer, but he makes his biggest mistake in not revamping a show that was designed for IBM conventions to suit a more discerning audience.
Telethon touches are rampant: Toward the end of the show he relates a maudlin anecdote about a baseball injury that forced him to give up Major League aspirations, only to be told by a fellow hospital patient (with cancer, no less) that God has other dreams in store for him — apparently God wants him to impersonate people. Okey-doke.