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BWW Review: MICHAEL MOTT & FRIENDS Makes You Want to Get Up On Your Feet at 54 Below

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Michael Mott & Friends Showcases a Unique Songwriter

BWW Review: MICHAEL MOTT & FRIENDS Makes You Want to Get Up On Your Feet at 54 Below

In 2012, Michael Mott left an up-and-coming career as an actor to concentrate on a different career as a songwriter and record producer. In the nine years since then, he has become an internationally acclaimed writer and performer, with many awards to his credit. The breadth of his talents spans musicals (Mafia Wife: A Mob Comedy, Lucifer, Riding Out the Storm,) and pop music ( Where the Sky Ends, Abandoned Heart.) His songs "Get Behind My Love" and "Jingle My Bells," both written for the NYC-based boy band, The Boy Band Project, were nominated for the 2020 Broadway World Cabaret Award for "Best Original Song" ("Jingle My Bells" won). His songs are sung by some of Broadway and cabaret's biggest talents, including Jeremy Jordan, Laura Osnes, Sierra Boggess, Josh Young, Jennifer Damiano, Orfeh, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Justin Guarini, James Snyder, Natalie Weiss, Teal Wickes, and many many others.

Thanks to the pandemic it's been nearly a year an half since Michael Mott was last at 54 Below. But he was back tonight at last with a new edition of his showcase, Michael Mott & FRIENDS. And he had lots to show off. His pandemic projects included not only one, but two new studio albums, THE ONLY ONE, a song cycle of songs about isolation, both physical and emotional, and IN THE LIGHT: A FAUSTIAN TALE, the beginnings of a new musical based on the legend by Goethe. He sang many selections from both works as well as fan favorites from his albums WHERE THE SKY ENDS and ABANDONED HEART. He was joined by his friends Matt Manuel (Ain't Too Proud,) Lindsay Rider, Jiovanni Daniel, and Lauren Devine. Although Mott has written in musical theatre, jazz, and rock styles, tonight's show was firmly rooted in the pop genre. In fact, three of his four featured friends have been on American Idol.

BWW Review: MICHAEL MOTT & FRIENDS Makes You Want to Get Up On Your Feet at 54 Below

Mott opened the show with the only song that he didn't write. But Billy Joel's "Miami 2017 (I've Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)" was the perfect post-pandemic opener. He then did a bold and unusual thing. He performed the entirety of his 20-minute song cycle THE ONLY ONE without interruption. The cycle was written in collaboration with Carson Rammelt. I won't list the six songs separately as it is definitely a complete work. He was joined in the cycle by the prodigiously gifted Lindsay Rider and Matt Manuel.

We next heard songs from Michael Mott's debut album, WHERE THE SKY ENDS. Matt Manuel rocked it out with "Don't Stop Dancin'." Mott gave us his beautiful ballad "Try," a song written with Jeremy Jordan in mind.

BWW Review: MICHAEL MOTT & FRIENDS Makes You Want to Get Up On Your Feet at 54 Below

He moved into a section dedicated to his album ABANDONED HEART. Lindsay Rider gave a passionate reading of "Breathless." Matt Manuel sang Mott's beautiful "Complicated."Lindsay Rider joined Mott at the piano and sang his stunning scene-in-song, "Single City." Matt Manuel gave us one of Mott's most popular tunes, "The Impossible," an inspirational anthem about overcoming great odds.

We next had a preview of Michael Mott's new musical IN THE LIGHT, A Faustian Tale. Lindsay Rider did a stylistic gear shift in "She's Not Me'" showing off her operatic training. She was then joined by Matt Manuel, Jiovanni Daniel, and Lauren Devine in a stirring quartet "Tomorrow Begins Today." It was an uplifting finale to a show filled with inspiring treasures.

Michael Mott is an advanced member of the BMI Theater Writer's Workshop. It shows in his work. His tunes are catchy with infectious hooks. But good as his music is, his lyrics are where he truly shines. He writes frequently about the difficulty of connecting in a city overflowing with people. He goes to the heart of the loneliness of a place like New York. He writes about broken hearts and broken promises and dreams that survive in the face of a world that works overtime to dampen them.

All the singers on tonight's program were spectacular talents. But it is Lindsay Rider who was the true standout. She was particularly clued in to the emotional subtext of Mott's well-crafted lyrics. Even when not singing, she was always entirely engaged in the theatre of his songs. It should also be pointed out that Mott's band, Andy Zinsmeister, David White, and Adam Wolfe could not have been more fantastic. And one essential member of Mott's team didn't appear onstage. his fantastic musical director, Joshua Zecher-Ross enjoyed the show from ringside.

The entire company joined Mott for an upbeat, joyful encore, "Get Up on My My Feet," which is just what the audience at 54 Below did. The song had the crowd dancing out into the warm summer night, glad to have heard these new tunes from a truly special songwriter.

BWW Review: MICHAEL MOTT & FRIENDS Makes You Want to Get Up On Your Feet at 54 Below

THE ONLY ONE and IN THE LIGHT, A Faustian Tale, as well as Michael Mott's other albums, are all available on Spotify, Apple Music, and all other streaming platforms. For more information on Michael Mott, go to michaelmott.net or follow him @michaelmott on Instagram. For more great acts at 54 below, visit 54below.com.


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