CABARET LIFE NYC: Adam Shapiro's Hilarious 'Guide to the Perfect Breakup' is Also a Primer On Creating Great Cabaret Musical Comedy
Missions accomplished. For Rule #4: "Control Your Anger," Shapiro worked a short medley of Alanis Morissette's bitter breakup song "You Oughta Know" and Jeff Lynne's (of Electric Light Orchestra) "Evil Woman" around the Bruno Mars hit "F*** You" (and he tastefully and humorously tooted a toy horn for every F-word), then transitioned into the heartfelt ballad "Guess Who I Saw Today" (Murray Grand/Elisse Boyd). For Rule #7: "Be Careful With Whom You Seek Comfort," Shapiro offered a delightfully funny take on Bill Zeffiro's "My Kind of Guy (Line Up if Your a Loser)," which had been introduced earlier this year in Marissa Mulder's show Illusions, before starting slow and building in tempo on "If You Hadn't, But You Did" (Comden and Green) for Rule #8: "Avoid Physical Violence."
"That song was Peter's idea, which was great because I would never have thought of it for the 'violence rule,'" Shapiro admits. "Luckily, Peter brought a whole library of great song suggestions, many of which turned out to be perfect fits." Shapiro's acting of each number is one of the most impressive aspects of his show and he gives much of the credit for that to a strong collaboration with his director. "Peter helped me develop a character for each song, which prevented me from doing the same delivery over and over again," Shapiro says, "That was priceless to me in getting the show where I wanted it to be."
As if developing the idea, selecting songs, and singing and acting wasn't enough, Shapiro also wrote most of the arrangements and gives Levitt--a accomplished arranger himself--the credit for giving him the confidence to take on that role. "I knew that if the arrangements were good, Barry would play the hell out of them, and if they weren't he would show me why and fix them," Shapiro explains. "But Barry told me I had the 'arranger gene' and he didn't change much. You don't know how cool it is to have Barry 'Freaking' Levitt tell me he likes my stuff."
Everyone in the audience at his Duplex shows has liked Shapiro's stuff. When he arrived at Rule #10: "Never Lose Hope," the performer got personal and poignant. "I've been single for 12 years and I've been the dumper and the dumpee," he admitted. "But someone will come along and make these rules obsolete. It's inevitable that I will put down the Haagen Dazs and put on the hair product and get out there." But there was no way Adam Shapiro was going to let the crowd get out of The Duplex without a laugh and so he offered an addendum to the 10 Rules: "Tell your exes that being without a partner doesn't mean you have to be without," he advised, and then delivered Marilyn Miller and Cheryl Hardwick's ode to sexual self-gratification "Making Love Alone." It was a guide to a hilarious finale . . . and so typically Adam.
Adam Shapiro is giving an "encore performance" of Guide to the Perfect Breakup, Wednesday, January 30, 7pm at The Duplex, 61 Christopher Street, New York, New York. For reservations, call: 212-255-5438