The Cabaret Chronicles: Nicolas King, Carly Ozard, Ann Hampton Callaway, and Sarah-Louise Young!
Well, readers, it's been a busy month for me, but amid all of the hustle and bustle, I've managed to take in some truly outstanding entertainment. From 19-year old Nicolas King to one of the greatest established treasures of the Great American Songbook, Ann Hampton Callaway, it was definitely a musical month to remember!
When Nicolas King hits the stage, one is immediately blown away by his charisma, poise, charm, and...YES, talent! At a mere 19 years of age, the remarkable musicality and vocal prowess displayed by Mr. King are very exciting to watch. Exciting in their own right, because they make for one heck of an entertaining show, but perhaps even more exciting is thinking about what's in store for the future. Equally at home belting out a theater tune or scatting on a jazz standard, Mr. King shows incredible versatility and brings his own take to each song - something special in any performer for sure, but made extra special considering his young age. Titled NINETEEN, the show was a celebration of Mr. King's debut album of the same name, as well as various other favorite songs of his that are not on the album. In a program full of showstoppers, it's hard to single out favorites, but I was particularly impressed by "Mr. Paganini." Mr. King handled this challenging tune (first popularized by the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald) like an old pro, seamlessly transitioning between tempos and easily playing around with the melody. Also of note was his tender medley of "Where Is Love" and "Blame It On My Youth," which showed off a softer side of voice and allowed his acting chops to shine. "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" was yet another standout. Featuring an a capella start, an extremely zippy tempo, and an incredible scat solo, this selection served as another harbinger of incredible things to come in Mr. King's career. Supported by the top-notch trio of musical director Mike Renzi on piano, Chip Jackson on bass, and Buddy Williams on drums, Mr. King put on a simply incredible show at Manhattan's Metropolitan Room- one can only hope that he'll return for another solo gig in NYC soon!
Exactly a week after Mr. King's show, I had the opportunity to see another young performer in a completely different type of show, and I had an equally great time! Talented Bay-Area vocalist Carly Ozard made her NYC debut in Somebody to Love: My Musical Tribute to Freddie Mercury at Don't Tell Mama, and what a debut it was! Full of heart, passion, great music, and fantastic vocals, it was a thoroughly entertaining show from top to bottom. Backed by a truly rockin' band (Musical Director Joe Wicht on piano, Brendan Getzell on guitar, Matt Scharfglass on bass and David Silliman on drums), all of whom joined in on backup vocals, Ms. Ozard broke through all kinds of barriers (A classically trained vocalist singing rock? A female vocalist covering Freddie Mercury? A "cabaret show" consisting entirely of rock music?) to put on one of the most thoughtful, heartfelt shows I've seen in quite a while. Explaining her obsession with Freddie from a very young age (even her DOG is named Freddie Mercury), it was clear to see that this music spoke to her heart. Weaving in stories from her own life (the stress of training in classical voice at college made a lovely segue into "Under Pressure," for example!) with stories about Freddie (the singer, not the dog!), Ms. Ozard kept the show flowing beautifully and also showed off her quick wit and easy sense of humor in some impromptu exchanges with the enthusiastic audience. She wisely chose to make "Bohemian Rhapsody" an audience participation number (she's very talented, yes - but it would have been quite a challenge to sing all of the parts simultaneously!), which allowed everyone to allow their inner "Queen" out and join in the fun. A remarkable debut to be sure - hopefully Ms. Ozard will be returning to Manhattan soon, too!