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BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

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Appearing with a smaller version of his Joe Iconis & Family show, Joe shows why the people follow him so devotedly.

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

When Joe Iconis appears in concert it is often as "Joe Iconis & Family," a fact upon which he touched at his 54 Below show on Saturday night. The moniker conjures up visions of some kind of seventies artists commune filled with music-making, play-writing, art-fashioning hippies of varying natures, all tree-huggy and full of mung-and-bean-sprout philosophies. And though I have never met Joe Iconis, after seeing him in action over the weekend (and his wife, Lauren Marcus, a few weeks ago) I have a strong suspicion that the vibe that I am projecting on them is not far from true. Oh, they may not be hugging that many trees, living in a yurt or singing "Kumbaya" before their morning repast (though, who knows?) but Mr. Iconis is definitely a leader of creative minds who have come together in our fair Metropolis to build a family of artists who will support one another, in every endeavor.

And what a beautiful family it is.

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Mr. Iconis is not allowed to have The Family with him at his current run of shows at Feinstein's/54 Below - so this time around the evening is simply titled Joe Iconis, which is as it should be. Yes, he has invited some friends to join him, some who are available for each performance, and others who will switch off guest appearance duties from one date to the next. It is, though, one discovers, part of the Joe Iconis makeup (or brand, if you will, though the term is hardly yurt-worthy) to be in the room with his loved ones - and though the term "loved ones" encompasses the entire audience of the entire room, there is no question that it is more rewarding for Joe to share the stage with the people with whom and for whom he creates.

He doesn't need to, by the way.

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below The first twenty (ish) minutes of Iconis' set on Saturday night was comprised of him sitting at the piano and performing his own songs. Well, not exactly sitting, because Joe Iconis does this sort of aerobic exercise routine while playing the piano that involves sitting, standing, perching, jumping, clapping, pointing, waving his arms in the air, running his hands through his hair, and one suspects that, at certain performances, he might even spin around on the piano bench in the middle of a song, like an ice skater going for the gold. Indeed, with Joe Iconis at the keys, piano playing could, well, become an Olympic sport. With his manic antics at the eighty-eights and his fully invested and powerful vocals, Joe Iconis could sell out a club, a cabaret, a concert hall, or a stadium all on his own: he is that entertaining a performer and that lovable a man. There can be no question of how he became the head of this family of artists: Joe Iconis is, hands down, one of the most endearing and charismatic people you will ever see on a stage, at a piano, on YouTube, in an elevator, walking down the street, or shopping for groceries. He's the Pied Piper of artistic souls.

He is also the musical theater voice of a new generation of theater artists and theater-goers.

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below For some years, starting around the mid-1980s, the American Musical Theater was overrun with artists who "wanted to be the next Sondheim." It wasn't an official thing, it was just something that people tended to say anytime a new composer came along with an intricate new musical. Amanda McBroom even sang an Alan Chapman song about it - it was a widely acknowledged pattern in the business of theatrical musicals. The only problem with composers writing complex, intellectual, interesting, fascinating musicals in order to "be the next Sondheim" is that there is no longevity in it. The world, you see, worships the original, and if you're not an original, you're just a copy. Joe Iconis was, clearly, never interested in being the next Sondheim: nothing in his writing suggests anything remotely derivative of any other musical theater writer. Everything appears to come from a place inside of Iconis that is completely individual, thoroughly unique, and absolutely authentic, all indications that Joe Iconis has a rather interesting sense of humor, a specific style of storytelling, and a strong memory of his young life. He has created a cannon of songs that can speak to everyone willing to listen, but that resonates in a special way with the young people of the musical theater-centric lifestyle. His followers filled Feinstein's Saturday night, filmed every song on their phones, and, when Joe's voice began to fail him, they sang the songs for him. Inasmuch as wife Lauren Marcus presents as a rock and roll goddess, Joe Iconis inspires a rock concert vibe, only with musical theater songs - but musical theater songs for 2021, songs that sometimes tease you by meandering in lengthy seven-minute compositions and the BAM! hit you with sudden meaning. The deceptive brilliance of his songwriting will leave you guessing, all the while that you are laughing, until you find yourself sighing contentedly at a surprise journey you didn't know you were going to take until Uncle Joe sat you down for Storytime and showed you the way. And, what do you know... you're an honorary member of Joe Iconis & Family, too: you're one of the cousins who shows up for performances, films the numbers, and fangirls from the emotions.

It's addictive. That's why Joe Iconis shows sell out every time. It's why they will always sell out every time.

Because of Joe.

The July 24th performance of Joe Iconis featured outstanding performances by Badia Farha, Marques Walls, and Jason SweetTooth Williams, and special guests Andrew Barth Feldman and Andrew Rannells. To the screams of the crowd, Will Roland jumped from his table in the audience onto the stage to fill in for a vocally compromised Joe Iconis.

The July 26th installment of Joe Iconis will welcome special guest Jason Tam. Andrew Rannells returns for the August 7th show.

For information and tickets to Joe Iconis visit the 54 Below website HERE.

Visit the Joe Iconis website HERE.

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below
Marques Walls

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below
Will Roland

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: JOE ICONIS Defines Originality and Family at Feinstein's/54 Below

Photos by Stephen Mosher


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