Reviews and Comments
The Heart of a Gypsy Troubadour is the engaging story of Richard Byford’s life as a performer,an actor, musician and singer, traveling the globe. His heartfeltsongs and tales of life on the road are at timesfunny, touching, inspiring, giving his audience a glimpse into the life that so many secretly wished they hadlived; a life of freedom, chance, mystery, hope, and survival. Richard’s show is wonderfully entertaining and I would recommend it to any venue; it is a winner!!
Michele Greene – The Tudor House
Richard Byford is a true 'Prince Charming," a one man dynamo, with many stories of love, loss, and life, in his solo show, "The Heart of A Gypsy Troubadour," now in its run at the Whitefire Theatre, Sherman Oaks. The adage "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" certainly applies to Richard, showman, singer and storyteller extraordinaire, as he candidly relays his miraculous battle and victory over cancer. He states, "It all comes back to souls and stories," as he, full of bravado and vigor, sings of his remarkable recovery, with the original, uplifting song 'Touched by the hands of an angel," recalling the nurse who cared for him. Richard has always taken the path less traveled, growing from every journey he has chosen. Facing adversity and obstacles is so often where true inspiration and sparks of creativity arise, as evidenced by almost every successful figure's life story, portrayed in autobiographical pieces or on A&E Biography series. Such is the case with Richard Byford, a British gentleman, a man of many faces, a rally car driver, a radio talk show host, a rodeo bull rider, but most of all, a self described gypsy troubadour, filled with poems and ballads that will enrich all who are privileged to hear them.
Starting his career in the folk music era of the 60's, honing his craft in English and European folk clubs, Richard's show delves into his career, love life, but most profoundly centers on his life changing medical diagnosis of cancer, where he wakes up, and 'smells the roses,' as it were. He states profoundly, as he reflects on his life: "Seasons go round and round; young learn from old; a path yet to be traversed, while danger lurks at every turn." Being told you may have borrowed time on this great green earth, that is where true genius and intense soul searching really takes place. Rather than taking this news as a death sentence, he takes it as a wake up call, with a philosophy of mind and will over matter, with performing, laughing and singing the best revenge of all. With candor, wit, humility, and grace, Richard Byford reveals the power of 'writing what you know,' and this brilliant performer does just that, making his mark, and leaving his legacy. He concludes the show, speaking inspiring words of wisdom: "Lust for life...have we lost or gained? I will keep on living till I die. I'm a rambling man, and like the wind, I'll be around." Charming and personable, Byford establishes a warm rapport with the audience, cracking jokes, adlibbing, and asking questions. His playful and animated attitude keep the production rolling along, and his expressive face and body language clearly define characters who might have populated his journey. Using just a change of costume, shape shifting, and fine acting, Byford brings a salty sailor and stoic cowboy to life.
The intimate venue works well for the production, becoming almost like a personal confession to the audience. Simple props like a steamer trunk and clothes rack with change of costumes establish the journey within.
Like Mame, “Life is a banquet” to Byford, a passionate adventure thoughtfully examined in song.
Mary Mallory, Tolucan Times (LA)
"Richard takes his audience on journey through a lifetime that many of us only dream about. He uses story, song, and characters he creates right before your eyes. While this will bring a smile to faces of just about any age, those of us with a few "miles on our chassis" will relate better than most. If this show is near your town, drop in and enjoy. I give it a perfect 4 out of Fordyce."
I was blown away by Richard’s one-man show. I’ve known of Richard's singing and songwriting skills for years, but was not aware of his considerable dramatic acting and speaking talents. These combined for an absolutely mesmerizing presentation of the story of his fascinating life. This is a must see show!
Richard Byford had a defining moment many years ago. It has brought him to this moment and his dream of performing THE HEART OF A GYPSY TROUBADOUR. He takes us on a journey performing personal stories and original songs giving us an intimate look into where he has been and where he is going in this next chapter of his life.
A “Troubadour” was originally a traveling musician, a lyric poet of folk songs and literature, a minstrel, a singer, a balladeer, a bard. A “Gypsy” is a member of a traveling group, a nomadic or free-spirited person, a rover, a wanderer. Troubadour and Gypsy define Richard’s performance. We hear original folk songs composed over time, and personal stories describing his experiences and expressing his heart and soul. Wherever we wander, our lives are made up of each and every moment, each choice we make, and experience we have. Richard brings us his journey and gives an insight into what lies ahead. And as Richard says, “A life well lived.”
Cathy Wayne, nohoartsdistrict.com