5 Songs

5 Songs; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $23-$35. B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street; (916) 443-300; www.bstreettheatre.org. Through March 1.
Rated 5.0

Local comedian, PBS host and storyteller extraordinaire Jack Gallagher presents his sixth one-man show, this time tapping into his love of music as a muse to memories. 5 Songs is yet another partnership between Gallagher and B Street Theatre, which has commissioned and launched his previous self-reflective shows—and it’s a winning formula.

Gallagher has a unique ability to draw you into his intimate personal anecdotes which range from sweet and melancholic to funny and revealing. Even when he’s recalling painful, bittersweet memories, Gallagher’s stories are meandering and endearing, like sitting in a pub with a friend. For anyone who has seen his other one-man shows, they know this is not edgy or topical humor—it’s beer sentimentality, not Fireball Whisky rants.

In 5 Songs, Gallagher lets the audience pick four out of nine preselected songs that trigger tales about his childhood, fatherhood and his lifelong comedic career. At a recent show, the audience-selected songs included “Danny Boy,” “Homeward Bound,” “Poetry Man,” “What Does It Take” and “Earthbound”—each launches stories not based on the lyrics, but rather what memories the particular song evoked as soundtracks to Jack’s life.

The show the audience sees depends on the songs they select. After arranging the songs on a board, Jack nods to backup guitarist Tommy Dunbar, who provides the intro music, background melody and occasional sound effects. And when Jack hears the first strains of the song, he jumps in his way-back memory machine and grabs us along for the ride.