BWW Review: ISAAC SUTTON Encores BROADWAY ISRAEL at Feinstein's / 54 Below
Shalom, New York!
Isaac Sutton has a talent for bringing folks together and you're unequivocally invited to the celebration. Leaping back onto the Feinstein's / 54 Below stage with a sold out encore of his show, BROADWAY ISRAEL, the international cabaret and theatre headliner is, first and foremost, the kind of buoyant performer who loves his audience, and whose audience loves him in return.
Boasting an evening of Broadway classics from beloved musicals like WEST SIDE STORY, HELLO DOLLY, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN and yes, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF performed in English and Hebrew, Sutton, often singing while recognizing faces in the audience or shaking hands as he canvases the room, throws himself into making his music an evening of personal connection.
Now, zeeskeit, it's true...The tunes are sometimes a little standard. Mr. Sutton is tall and lanky, with slicked back hair and a Vegas crooner's wink, and at first glance, it might be easy to dismiss him (especially dressed in white suit and sequined black vest) as the kind of cliched act you'd see on a luxury cruise ship or in a hotel lounge (God Forbid). And yes, the boy's shtick can veer a little on schmaltz. But when the party's this fun and the songs are this good, who am I to resist?
And on top of everything else - as supported by a terrific trio, led by musical director, Dan Pardo and two of Broadway's most delightful and talented leading ladies, Amanda Jane Cooper (WICKED) and Ali Ewoldt (THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) Sutton proves to be a kind and generous mensch, and we are all the more skillfully entertained because of it.
Launching with a bouncy take on Sinatra's perennial, "Come Fly With Me" and a swinging spin on Michael Buble's "Sway" in Hebrew, Sutton is quick to introduce the cherubic Cooper for a playful repartee of duets, including "Anything You Can Do...I Can Do Better" and a clever twist on "The Rain in Spain," which shows Sutton teaching Cooper the correct pronunciation of the song as it is performed in Israel (Try singing "Barad Yarad Bidrom Sfarad Haerev" three times fast, and you'll know how Eliza Doolittle really felt).
With the warm and elegant Ewoldt, Sutton tackles the evening's most lyrical material. A self acknowledged bass-baritone, Sutton's vocal range doesn't allow for the usual tenor gusto on songs like "All I Ask of You" and "Tonight, but he makes up for any technical weakness (the voice can occasionally waver into pitchiness) with feeling and earnestness. And it must be noted, that the shared affection between Sutton and both Cooper and Ewold seems genuine and mutual.
Playing to adoring applause (and occasionally audience sing a long) throughout, Sutton is, perhaps not surprisingly, at his strongest in material closest to his heart; and songs like a medley from the popular Israeli musical, KAZABLAN and "All I Care About is Love" (as sung by Billy Flynn in CHICAGO: Sutton's dream role) showcase the entertainer's talent to best effect.
Closing with "Don't Rain on My Parade" from FUNNY GIRL, Isaac Sutton seems to be staking his claim, and driving home the real theme of the night: with a dream, anything is possible, and any stage conquerable. Joy, after all is contagious, and who, at the end of any day, can resist passion? That translates into truth (and an adoring audience) in any language.