I saw John C. Reilly Friday night at Largo (Los Angeles) do his show "Mr. Romantic". He sings and acts, with backup musicians, in a 90-minute comedy/drama. About half the songs are standards, and the other half possibly by Reilly but not sure.
It was enthralling, virtuosic and funny. It was the calibre of work of his movies but without a net...no camera or editing bay magic! To summarize or hint at its content would probably detract rather than capture the experience of it, so I won't try. The laughter was so constant and joyous, that I saw myself in that sweet scene from Amelie (2001) where the camera is turned towards a movie audience, everyone smiling and in communal bliss.
The four-person band consisting of guitar, piano, trumpet, violin, accordion and double bass were were a team of subtle players who played like a classical chamber ensemble. They were unamplified and seldom if ever played above mezzo forte. The upright piano was modified in some ingenious way that the upper notes sounded like some kind of zither, a softly-played cimbalom, or dulcimer perhaps. When played along with pizzicato violin, the sound was starry and other-worldly. They were a crack team of session-quality players, who seemed right at home in the theatre.
Reilly and Mrs. Fishtaco grew up in the same Chicago neighborhood and used to act in a high school clown troupe that performed in old folks' homes. Clown art, which he featured as Mr. Cellphane in Chicago (2002), was very much in the ethos of Reilly's self-penned storyline.
There wasn't an opportunity to visit him backstage...maybe next time...but that kind of separation of actor from audience is also a Clown thing.