Former Broadway performer takes show to Clovis

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico

David Geist doesn’t just want to play music. He wants to teach others why he loves it so much.

“I infuse dramatic intent when I play my music,” Geist said, “and that’s what I feel is part of the offering I am able to give.”

Geist is playing at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 show at the Mabry Inn in Clovis.

The show is a fundraiser for Clovis Community College’s Cultural Arts program.

Tickets, available only in advance, are $50 and available at CCC’s cashier windows.

After a childhood influenced by his singer/actress mother and 20 years of musical performances on famous Broadway shows, Geist moved to Santa Fe two years ago to branch out.

“It was mostly just a change of lifestyle, a different kind of artistic life,” Geist said. “As glamorous as it might have seemed, it felt very lateral.

“It’s very fulfilling and gratifying, but it has a dedication to it.”

That led to his cabaret room in Santa Fe, where he performs nightly shows. That’s where he ended up meeting Christy Mendoza, CCC’s cultural arts director.

Mendoza was having dinner in Santa Fe one night and noticed he was playing. From his first show, she decided he would be the perfect artist to share with Clovis.

“I had so much fun listening to him,” Mendoza said. “I felt like I was right in the middle of a New York piano bar.”

During his performances, Geist will play selections from shows he used to work on, and talk to the audience about what the show’s creators and composers told him about what motivated them.

“Theater music gets a bad rap,” Geist said. “You think of showtunes and you think of Ethel Merman singing, something that’s way over the top.

“Part of my career is … to show people this art form does have integrity. It’s a very specialized art form to tell a very particular story in song.”

Some of Geist’s favorite memories involve his piano work in Steven Sondheim’s 1994 Tony Award-winning show “Passion” and talking with Andrew Lloyd Webber about what he intended for “Phantom of the Opera.”

During the shows, Mendoza said he’ll even have audience members join him on stage, and she envisions a similar night for Clovis.

“He’s fun, that’s it,” Mendoza said. “I had a blast listening to him and watching the people.”

The fundraiser will help defray costs for the cultural arts department throughout the year, as Mendoza said performers have many incidentals in contracts.

There’s also a benefit to Geist, who has brought many artists into his cabaret room but hasn’t done much to take his show elsewhere.

“This is the next level I want to go, is to take this nationally and internationally and perform concerts and perform these shows,” he said. “Clovis is a wonderful way to start that process.”