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BWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below

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Johnny T Goes Puppet Free...

BWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below

Breaking The Puppet Habit, Tartaglia Shows His Arms & His Soul

Heigh-Ho, My Merry Rainbow Tribe! Bobby Patrick, your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in cabareT to bring you all the T!

... And the T this week stands for Tartaglia. When the assignment came to review Broadway's most famous Tony (and 3 time Emmy) nominated puppet master, giggles abounded because who doesn't love puppets? Imagine our surprise, my readerlings, on Monday night when, 4 songs into the 14 number setlist, he sang the Stephen Schwartz-penned theme song to his children's show and it became clear that Johnny had left the Sprites at home... except for the FAB Leslie Carrara-Rudolph who was in the audience vociferously supporting her pal. At about this same moment, though, the energy in the air and on the stage moved any disappointment we might have been feeling aside and assured all present that the young at heart were not toBWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below be disappointed, regardless of the lack of socks on hands. John Tartaglia is enough all on his own... which one might speculate could have been the reason behind this Cabaret - to show all assembled that there is more to the man, the performer, the actor than just his imagination's best friends. Directed with a wonderfully lite hand by Donna Drake and looking quite fetching in shades of blue denim, the now 43-year-old singer entered to strains of Celine's I DROVE ALL NIGHT and proceeded to walk his audience through rock and roll songs, Broadway show songs, and TV show theme songs, all matched to stories from his 25-year professional career. For those who remember the fresh-faced Tartaglia's Le Sigh-inducing entrance, way back when Avenue Q opened, it is difficult to believe that 18 years have passed for us or for him. BWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below Still youthful of appearance and energy, and dedicated to entertaining on a warm-hearted level, Tartaglia metaphorically pulled up a chair and invited all to Storytime. Using his unique mellifluous speaking voice, coupled with his melodic and powerful singing voice, he told the tale of how he got to Monday night - from his first viewing of Fraggle Rock as a child to his first professional gigs at the tender age of 18, through the surprise of landing a huge Broadway hit, and the ever after that came after.

Describing himself as "annoyingly optimistic" but not holding back regarding the ups and down-downs of his show business career, his marriage that didn't take, or his full-on powerful gayness, JT gave each song deeper meaning within the tales he told. To let a little rain fall with Bobby's rainbows, it has to be said there were one or two instances where the brave singer took vocal risks that didn't entirely pay off for him, but those were slight bumps in the road of a fine evening's entertainment. Truth be told, Tartaglia's voice reminded little (former) Baptist Bobby of a gospel singer on stage bringing the message of finding one's purpose with just a touch more gay than gospel. PURPOSE being the theme of his show as well as one of his most famous numbers, the entire evening brought JT and his listeners from the 18-year-old lad with a lot of gumption (who once auditioned for Rafiki in THE LION KING, a story that must be heard for all its layers and comic timings) to the man on stage Monday night that truly BWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below cherishes the purpose he has found for himself. But that didn't mean that there are no ambitious dreams still bubbling up inside this artist. One of those dreams was fulfilled when John played THE MUSIC MAN, Harold Hill, in regional theatre in Florida - with his mother in the cast, no less. There are also pie-in-the-sky "dream roles'' that John would love to assail... case-in-point: his full-on performance of GREY GARDEN's Little Edie (a role he would kill to play) complete with wall hanging "Persian shawl" headscarf, makeshift drapery skirt, and tiny American flag, he was S-T-A-U-N-C-H-ly standing up for every musical theatre queen in the land. The sad note here is that this gem of a show is a one-and-done, and we can only hope that F/54B will re-program this one before year's end. It really is not to be missed.

Finally, my lambkins, John Tartaglia's BETTER GET TO LIVIN' uplifted and entertained in some really magical ways, and he did it all with his own real self, his own real voice, and his own real story. With laughs and poignancy, an eclectic setlist with some Elton John and some Stephen Sondheim, a little boy really can start out watching a beloved childrens' show and travel full circle to play Gobo Fraggle. For all the bright sunny feels he gave us, Bobby gives John Tartaglia: BETTER GET TO LIVIN' a very strong...

4 Out Of 5 Rainbows.

John Spins His Webby: HERE

Follow His Insta-Pictograms: HERE

Hang On To His Twitters: HERE

All photos by yours truly, Bobby Patrick.

BWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: John Tartaglia Goes Puppet-Less And Tells Us All We BETTER GET TO LIVIN' at Feinstein's/54 Below


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