Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: Marvin Gayatgay Makes Impressive Cabaret Debut In THIS IS THE MOMENT at Urban Stages


Choral performer steps out of the choir and into the solo spot.

BWW Review: Marvin Gayatgay Makes Impressive Cabaret Debut In THIS IS THE MOMENT at Urban Stages During the year-long shutdown that kept cabarets, clubs, and concert halls closed, we at Broadway World Cabaret covered a great deal of online content, virtual concerts, and Zoom shows. When the clubs re-opened, we took a step back from covering virtual entertainment; when, however, the Omicron variant became a threat to society, club acts began quietly canceling and postponing. Clubs made the painful decision to close their doors for a few weeks. Even Broadway World correspondents were exercising their option to stay out of the cabaret rooms. Any number of performers and performances that had been on the radar of the cabaret went unobserved.

Since it is part of the mission statement of this cabaret editor to give as much light to as many artists and as much art as possible, I began reaching out to producers to ask if there were show videos that I could watch and write about, and even though it is not the same as reviewing a live concert, it is, as the saying goes, better than nothing. I've certainly, by this point, had plenty of experience reviewing cabaret shows from the privacy of my home office.

In the upcoming days, we will be looking at the work of artists, new or relatively so, to the New York City club and concert scene, and we encourage all who love live music to look for their names on nightclub calendars in the future.

- Stephen Mosher, Editor Broadway World Cabaret


Presented December 18, 2021 at Urban Stages

Marvin Gayatgay is a native of the Philippines who tours the world as the bass soloist of the Philippines Madrigal Singers and on December 18th the charmer made his solo show debut as a part of the annual WINTER RHYTHMS series at Urban Stages. The Winter Rhythms program happens each December, bringing cabaret artists to the theatrical stage in individually produced concerts. Mr. Gayatgay was spotted on YouTube by fledging nightclub producer Craig Horsley and, in true Florenz Ziegfeld fashion, Mr. Horsley decided there and then that the singer should be a nightclub star. To be certain, Misters Horsley and Gayatgay are off to a good start, one might even say a great start, and though the program that was presented was more of recital than a cabaret act, it was an impressive first outing for the Filipino with the Power Notes.

Marvin's hour-long program, THIS IS THE MOMENT, was one that offered no structure or storyline, simply a set of songs that he enjoys singing and that his audience loved hearing. The young man is an exquisite vocalist who doffed his microphone on several occasions throughout the performance to display the skills that he has cultivated over the years. Indeed, Marvin might, easily, have performed the entire show without the mic, though there was a certain amount of pleasure in hearing him swing with a jazz-infused "Moon River" that included some scat singing, perhaps not something best performed with the big belt of which he is possessor. Whether working with or without electronic amplification, Gayatgay is an affable man with a pleasant presence - so pleasant that it is impossible not to like him.

Performing a relatively unimaginative setlist of songs made famous by the likes of Elvis Presley, Andy Williams, Tom Jones, Robert Goulet, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong, Mr. Gayatgay effectively reminded this writer of why songs like "Impossible Dream" and "What a Wonderful World" and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" are so enduring, why people have always wanted to sing them, and why people still love to hear them. In the hands of a less proficient vocalist, in the placement of a less pretty voice, these songs, this setlist, might have been a bit rote; with Marvin Gayatgay raising these melodies up in the air, the concert became an act of pure joy and listening pleasure. As rewarding, though, as it was to hear these classic popular compositions from throughout the history of American music, the highlights of the evening, for this writer, came when Marvin stayed a little closer to home.

Singing in his native tongue, Mr. Gayatgay presented three songs that were accompanied by personal revelations about his life experiences, providing the audience with moments for which the art form of cabaret exists. There is an intimacy that gives cabaret shows their most valuable moments, and when Marvin disclosed personal facts about his life, his dreams, his struggles, his faith, and then pairing those confessions with songs like "Gaano ko ikaw kamahal (How Much Do I Love You)" and "Huwag ka ng umiyak (Do Not Cry From a Beautiful Affair"), it opened him up to his audience in exactly the way that cabaret should. The unquestionable triumph of the evening, though, was his finale "How Did You Know," which brought all of the emotion, intimacy, and vocal technique together in one glorious performance that cemented, firmly, Craig Horsley's notion that Marvin Gayatgay should be working on the club and concert circuit.

As this was Mr. Gayatgay's first-ever outing as a solo artist (and since it has been announced the program will be reprised for Valentine's Day), perhaps this cabaret regular might offer some modest observances that might assist him in the fine-honing of his new craft. There are times during his show when Marvin tended to wander about the stage, seemingly aimlessly; one might offer that, although a cabaret show should appear relaxed, casual, spontaneous, never should there be a moment without purpose. Since Marvin is working very well with his director Vincent Scott, perhaps the twosome could have an informal chat about the focus needed in carrying the arc of a cabaret show from opening notes to final bow. Maybe the twosome could include their exceptional Musical Director John DiPinto in some group explorations on what story each individual song is presenting versus what story the club act, itself, offers. It could serve Mr. Gayatgay, moving forward, to ask himself what kind of cabaret artist he wants to be, one that offers a random setlist of good songs, or one that offers a fully realized storytelling experience from beginning to end - either one is acceptable and enjoyable in the cabaret and concert industry, one for which he (certainly) has the goods to thrive. It is always good, though, to begin as one means to continue, and since Marvin has such magnificence to offer, now is the time to decide how he wants to offer it. These suggestions are merely a place to start... but given what this writer witnessed in the show video of his cabaret debut, there is no doubt in my mind that Marvin Gayatgay wants to offer his audience the very best.

And he is poised to give them just that.

Marvin Gayatgay will present an encore performance of THIS IS THE MOMENT, freshened up for Valentine's Day, on February 12th. For information and reservations visit the URBAN STAGES website HERE.

Photo courtesy of Suzanna Bowling at Times Square Chronicles

Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories

Buy at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

From This Author Stephen Mosher