South Paris musician
is accompanist for show
PARIS — When Grammy nominee Judy Pancoast was invited to perform a tribute to the 1970s best-selling musical group The Carpenters at a Massachusetts theater a few years ago, there was only one person she needed to call — her old friend Michael Pierce.
Pancoast, a Waterville native, met Pierce, who hails from South Paris, at the University of Maine in 1980. The two musicians have been the best of friends ever since. Pancoast knew that Pierce would be the perfect musical director and accompanist for her musical memoir of growing up as a Carpenters
fan “back in the day.”
The duo will be bringing their cabaret show, “All My Best Memories: Built by The Carpenters,” to Pierce’s alma mater, the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, on Saturday, April 22, at 2 p.m. in a performance to benefit the school’s music department.
Directed by cabaret impresario David Gaines, the show has brought down the house several times at world-renowned club Don’t Tell Mama in New York City. It features Pancoast intimately sharing her early life story, through anecdotes and the music of the best-selling brother and sister duo who were consistently at the top of the charts in the seventies, with hits that stand the test of time such as “(They Long to be) Close to You” and “We’ve Only Just Begun.”
The show is not an impersonation, but a tribute in the classic sense, with Pancoast
paying homage to her idols through story and song. As the title implies, Judy was, indeed, built by the music of the pair as she struggled to find her identity as a chubby child from a working class, dysfunctional family. Audiences have laughed and cried during the show and inevitably embrace her warm personality and enthusiasm for her subject.
New York Entertainment writer Kevin Scott Hall said of the show: Pancoast has a smooth and pleasing tone that is also tailor-made for this material. Even better,
her heart has been immersed in the material for decades, so every note and word is felt. Her version of “Superstar” (co-written by the recently departed Leon Russell), the ultimate groupie song, is filled with a trenchant longing that makes it as effective as any version I’ve ever heard.”
Music from some of the best pop songwriters in the world, including Burt Bacharach, Paul Williams and Henry Mancini is also part of the program.
“All My Best Memories: Built by The Carpenters,” will take place in the Mark S. Eastman Auditorium at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at the door prior to the performance.
Cover for Carpenters’ album.