BWW Review: MICHAEL OSSO Makes WORDS MATTER at Don't Tell Mama
Heigh-Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
Dear Hearts! When we sat down at the Historic Don't Tell Mama's and took one look at the press photo of Michael Osso, our little rainbow heart went pitter-pat - and the real-world version did not disappoint. The handsome crooner took the stage and was even dreamier in 3-D. Add to this the additional eye candy of his gifted, silver-haired music director John Fischer, and there was plenty to see, as well as hear, in this show where Osso, somewhat loosely at times, explored his theme of the power of words. Opening with a few lines from the Newley/Bricusse night club perennial FEELING GOOD, Osso quickly segued to his theme of words with Beddingfield's UNWRITTEN. The silkiness of his voice mixed a bright tenor-y resonance that was contained but filled the room none-the-less; even through the soft lullaby of Yeston's NEW WORDS. He proceeded with the core of his thematic exploration singing 8 ballAHds in a row; all heartfelt, all well performed and beautiful to listen to, but by #6 we found ourselves wishing for a bit of pep, leaving 7 & 8 to languish a bit in BallAHD land.
An out and proud member of the Gay Men's Chorus, as well as the quartet The Broadway Four, Michael Osso is a smooth, gifted, and eminently experienced performer who shares a beautiful connection with every member of his audience, regardless of their seats. He plays the whole room with such a warmth of feeling and expression that we all just melted at his friendly gaze. He is so engaging in fact that the slightly over practiced ease of his scripted patter, that at times swung a little close to the cheese grater but never made contact, was totally forgiven in a room that loved his heart, soul, and voice. His real charm and sense of humor shone through in the moments where he went off script and just cracked wise with his people. When he reached the uptempo portion of the evening, a medley of the teen-pops PARTY IN THE USA, CALL ME MAYBE & WE ARE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER, his charm and wit carried a moment when one might have asked, "Are these songs really for (let's face it) an over 30 gay man in a Cabaret room?" The answer is yes ... mostly. Afterward, his joke about young lyricists (that Bobby will not ruin here darlings) put it over the plate.
With expert support by his yummy music director, Fischer (who also provided some nice backup vocals), cool as ice bassist Jerry DeVore, and the seemingly octopus-like Zachary Eldrige on drums, the sound of Osso's show is balanced, full and, giving credit to Fischer here, lives in that pocket of supporting the singer and never overblowing him... We all hate that, right dearlings? DeVore's deft handling of the bass lines moving between string and upright bass was a show in and of itself, while Eldrige seemed able to add multiple percussion sounds and instruments all at once from his seat stage left. Everything mixes and blends so well through every song, it is hard to imagine that this is Osso's first-ever solo cabaret. His practiced ease, choice of theme, and stage presence leave one believing he was born for the night clubs. Now, to bring a little rain with the rainbow and put the critic in critique... As stated here, the evening relies a great deal on the slow and heartfelt, and one would expect that, with his singing chops, Michael would give out with a real power ballad, especially with Dear Evan Hanson's YOU WILL BE FOUND near the end of the program. Osso, however, stays contained and does not go for any real money on this song, and we really wish he had.
So my loves, what is our overall impression? Michael Osso puts on a lovely if a bit ballAHd heavy performance, giving us a fine night of cabaret. Would we have liked a few faster tempos? Sure. Would we have asked for a real socko Patti-Power number? You bet. But dear ones, this is a show for all who love lots of good music, lots of heart and lots of face.
We give this one 3 ½ Rainbows out of 5.
Michael works in the nonprofit world as President & CEO of The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. To read more about this worthy organization click Here.