Pasadena ISD alumnus directs music in show spotlighting Irving Berlin
Playing guitar with a youth group in Pasadena helped launch Eduardo Guzman’s career as a musical director, including a cabaret of Irving Berlin tunes that will run May 31 through June 2 in Houston.
“For fans of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ and ‘White Christmas,’ it will be a trip down memory lane,” said the 2006 graduate of South Houston High School.
“Others will gain a wealth of knowledge about Irving Berlin and the environment in which he wrote his famous songs.”
The cabaret is titled “Doin’ What Comes Naturally: Irving Berlin in the ’40s.” It will be presented at 8 p.m. May 31 through June 1 and 4 p.m. June 2 at Ovations, a nightclub at 2536 Times Blvd., Suite B in Houston’s Rice Village. Tickets are $20 and $30. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guzman was 12 when he “just kind of picked up a guitar” in the youth music program at Faith Assembly of God in Pasadena.
At age 16, he began taking piano lessons from local piano teacher Geneva Fort.
By age 17, as a South Houston senior , Guzman was the piano accompanist for the school’s orchestra in addition to playing percussion for the school band.
“In a way, I was always a freelancer,” he said, a style of working he still enjoys.
While earning a bachelor’s degree in piano performance at Houston Baptist University, Guzman was hired to assist director John Morales on “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” a musical at Baytown Little Theatre.
“That is when I actually learned what a music director does,” said Guzman.
“John brought me in to teach the music to the cast. Then he asked me to play for the show. Then he asked me to get together a band to play for the show.”
Basically, those tasks are what comprise a music director’s job, Guzman said.
“You are responsible, with the rest of the creative team, for realizing the music vision of the director,” he said. “You teach the music, including the harmony parts. You coach the singers on style and interpretation. You function as an audience’s ear for them.”
For the Irving Berlin cabaret, Guzman was also asked to prepare an arrangement in four-part harmony of “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor.”
The song will be described in the context of Berlin’s patriotism as a Russian immigrant when the cabaret’s producer, Paul Hope, narrates the show in a format that Guzman enjoyed when he first worked with Hope’s group, as the music director for a Cole Porter cabaret last February.
In college survey courses, Guzman got to study the songbooks of various composers, but he said, “It was never in the environment of a live performance. With this, I get to perform the music as I learn it. It’s another way to really get to understand a composer’s language and his way of writing.”
A sampling of the cabaret’s playlist includes “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” “You Keep Coming Back Like a Song” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”
Guzman lives in Houston’s Midtown neighborhood, where he is the founder and artistic director of Pitch Me This, a theatrical production company.
Guzman will play in the band that accompanies students in PMT’s youth cabaret camps June 3-7 and June 10-14 in Nassau Bay.
PMT will return in early July for tryouts and rehearsals for the group’s summer musical, “Into the Woods JR.,” with performances July 26-27.
Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at email@example.com