Marshall Charloff had us partying like it was 1999 Friday, January 20, at Reynolds Performance Hall, 223 Beatrice Powell St., in Conway. Expertly gliding all over the Purple Piano, oozing charisma that demanded attention and churning up desires deep seeded in our souls since the 80s, his Prince celebration was magical. Quoting my personal Prince Superfan Perry Morris, the experience was “very entertaining, very accurate, and very respectful.”
Birthed in Las Vegas, the one-man tribute show to Prince opened with a video of Julia Roberts singing Kiss from the movie PRETTY WOMAN. Though I don’t think the audience was quite ready, the spotlight hit Charloff, and you would have thought you were hearing Prince himself as he jazzed his way song after song for an hour and a half. All the hits, favorites, and several B-sides were played in a nearly continuous euphony mixed with anecdotes and visual arrays of imagery on the projected screen. From Kiss, we grooved through Little Red Corvette, Sign of the Times, watched the Muppet video (which I do remember, because I LOVE the Muppets), heard his explanation about the song Cream, crooned to Nothing Compares to You, and on and on it went to Purple Rain, where he brought out a guitar and proved he was just as gifted on that as he was on his Purple Piano. Thankfully, the party didn’t stop there, because he came back out to do an encore, played through some flip-side songs and ended with When Doves Cry. Because it was a one-man show, he said we (the audience) were his backup singers and band. Though we failed him several times throughout the night, it was a blast, and quite often funny, trying to be worthy of our requested charge. So much fun was had. It was an awesome display of ultimate musicianship, and I am so glad I was here for it!
Charloff. Is. Ah-Ma-Zing! Oh my goodness! His piano skills were mind-blowing. He had no trouble commanding the keys or the audience. He switched back and forth from taking on the persona of Prince to acknowledging his superfan status, which was quite endearing. There is no doubt that Charloff has great regard for Prince, but when he switches to actual Prince mode, the electrifying confidence exudes all the way to the back of the auditorium. Even though he had to seriously clean up some of the lyrics (for example Darling Nicki….and the audience favorite *Kitty* Control just to name a few), several of my audience comrades were pretty hot and bothered, and rightfully so. His showmanship skills are top-tier level.
When Charloff isn’t performing as Prince, he is making his mark in the music world with his own brand of entertainment. For those that have been to his shows, there is no surprise that it is in the realm of Jazz. I listened to his newest album Unperfect on repeat all weekend and have decided that the personality of the pieces give either a sense of contentment in his personal life, or it is the antithesis to the sexual dopamine that he has to produce to summon Prince every night. It is “vibey”- quote the teenage crowd that was subjected to my weekend homework, without being pretentious or overtly carnal. His style suggests that he likes to play with chords and trickles ornamental notes throughout his compositions. His voice is smooth with sensual dreaminess in Nothing Matters (Just Love), I love how the bass seeps in during the grooveable HipNautic, but my favorite is the funky Minneapolis Sound, both original and the smooth jazz version. It makes me want to get to know the city more-and not just the Mall of America. To learn more about this versatile performer, visit his website at https://marshallcharloff.com.
PURPLE PIANO: A CELEBRATION OF PRINCE was presented as a benefit event for the Reynolds Main Stage Education Series. Main Stage Education is a program that benefits children all over the state by bringing quality educational and entertaining events to Reynolds. For upcoming shows, visit uca.edu/publicappearances for more information.