Liberace for Christians

So Dino is coming to Pianorama. Get out your bedazzlers, kids, and don’t forget the Aquanet! Seriously. Who knew Clarke Beasley was a Dino fan? Better yet, who knew southern gospel music fans were Dino fans? Or maybe they aren’t. And maybe they don’t have to be. I really don’t know, but it’s an odd choice.

If this were Andrew Ishee’s Pianorama and not Roger Bennett’s, it might make more sense. Ishee seems ever-so-smitten with the weepy, stringy ballads and the showiness and upstagemanship and the flashing of “am I charming or what” grins at the audience that’s all associated with the Dino-Liberace line of solo pianists. But Bennett’s style - folksy and homespun and self-deprecatingly unserious - couldn’t be farther from Dino’s rhinestone-encrusted flamboyance.

I guess this could make for some passable comedy, and maybe the sheer incongruity of it all will bring out a bigger crowd. Because certainly the Pianorama is rather a one-trick, seen-one-seen-em-all kind of affair. But the danger in trying to enliven an old standard with a jolt of unfamiliarity is that you have to reach for ever more fringier “special guests” to outdo yourself from one year to the next. 2007: Jo Ann Castle! 2008? Piano playing pooches! Woof.

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