Rio Clemente gives impressive performance at recent dinner theatre


If one could confess problems with the recent Pine Bluff Dinner Theatre, it would be that Rio Clemente’s performance was just not long enough. To take a line from Lerner and Lowe he could have played all night and with three standing ovations the audience asked for more.

Can an evening be filled with too much musical inspiration and pure joy? Can a performer have too much charm, musical prowess and talent? Can the atmosphere be too close to heaven as in the song, “I’m in Heaven?” Well listen to what some of the audience had to say. Taylor Eubanks exclaimed, “Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.”

Bill Fox said,” Fabulous repertoire.”

“Better then Oscar Peterson,” stated Jean Painton.

An unexpected treat was when Rio asked Mary Finnie to sing “Moon River”. Rio says that he loves being an accompanist because if affords him the opportunity to orchestrate as opposed to being a soloist.

Rio Clemente master pianist, jazz virtuoso will always be remembered for his unremitting style, sensitivity and elegant technique. Rio received three standing ovations. The first was when he interpreted a medley of Beethovan’s “Moonlight Sonata”, and Richard Rodgers/ Lorenz Hart’s “My Funny Valentine”. The second followed strains from Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2, Autumn Leaves, which inspired bravos throughout. The third was when Rio stated that he always ends his performances with a patriotic tribute. Rio asked the audience to sing along with “America the Beautiful” and God Bless America”. The audience stood, sang and cheered with tears in their eyes.

Old Town Theatres Centre was fortunate to be able to bring Rio Clemente, the master pianist to Pine Bluff. To mark the occasion OTTC brought in a 7-foot Steinway model B. Last year Clemente played at the White House on their historic 1938 Steinway, 10-foot concert grand.

The Pine Bluff Country Club might not be the White House – but certainly its not far from Camelot. Soft lighting of blue lavender and amber, plus beautiful tablescapes by Diane Crowder and Brenda Neely Smith all contributed to the atmosphere. The dinner theatre’s gentleman butler, Robert Painton, in his tuxedo with tails exuded correct protocol when serving his spirits.

Speaking of Camelot what did the audience dine on? Jamie, chef of the grand establishment, prepared the menu starting with Irish cheese soup, pork medallions with apple chutney, Lyonaise potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts and dessert of key lime pie.

The collaboration between Old Town Theatres Centre and the Pine Bluff Country Club seems to be made in heaven as this is their sixth dinner theatre show.

For information about the dinner theatre shows, contact Jack Stradley at 870-535-2646.