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BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

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The singing raconteur brings his individuality and charm to a new stage in Manhattan and in his work.

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

One hundred thirty. That is the number of people who reportedly attended last night's Robbie Rozelle show at Birdland, his freshman outing at the fabled jazz club. Up until last night, all of Mr. Rozelle's cabaret outings have taken place on the stage at the swanky supper club 54 Below, where he has produced solo shows and a weekly chat/variety program, and where he was creating an artistic home away from home. Whip-smart emcee and talent booker Jim Caruso saw something in Rozelle that he thought would fit nicely into the Birdland programming and booked into the club this entertainer who frequently makes one feel like they are in a real-life episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. That isn't hyperbole; Robbie Rozelle has carved for himself a very specific place in the small venue rooms of New York City, a place that reflects on the type of entertainment he probably enjoyed during his formative years that makes him one part raconteur, one part stand-up comic, and one part musical storyteller, rather like a Borscht Belt comic playing Catskills resorts. Hello, Mrs. Maisel. And that spot that Rozelle is filling on the cabaret and club stages of Manhattan has garnered him a bevy of buffs who will buy a ticket and turn up to see what story he will be telling next. Last night there were one hundred thirty of those followers at Birdland and they ate up every last minute of THE NEXT ONE, and when it was finished, they wanted more.

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland The title of Mr. Rozelle's show refers to the number of times friends, colleagues, neighbors, and the general populace have said, "I can't make the show, but I'll be at the next one" but it isn't what his program was about. Using a script well-crafted by his own hand and a set of fourteen songs, Robbie did what the experts tell you to do: he wrote what he knows. The Next One was all about Robbie. Robbie's growing-up experiences. Robbie's thoughts on the world at large and, especially, how it affects his day-to-day life. Robbie's brush with Sondheim. Robbie's odd task performed for Patti LuPone. Robbie's need for Broadway divas. Robbie's husband's study in linguistics. Robbie's current castability as an actor. Every vignette in his evening of entertainment came from a real-life experience (and Robbie Rozelle has had some experiences) and, as such, every moment of The Next One was absolutely authentic, and absolutely enjoyable. It is impossible to not have a good time with someone who is being precisely who they are. Robbie Rozelle is always himself, and he always speaks the truth.

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland "I'm terrified right now." That was Rozelle's commentary on the reality of being on the Birdland stage. He further confessed to his throng of admirers that he is always terrified when he is on stage. You can tell. Speaking as someone who has seen all of Rozelle's solo shows and several of his chat show installments, Robbie's voice can tend to waver at times, both when singing and when speaking, and one might think it's nerves, one might think it's the lightning speed with which he monologues, one might think it's his natural metabolism: fast, fast, fast. It doesn't matter. The waver is as endearing as every other aspect of Rozelle's onstage performance, from his wicked humor to enviable improv skills, from his irreverence to his honesty. There is nothing about Mr. Rozelle that isn't relatable, and nothing that isn't likable, including his vocal limitations.

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland Another of Rozelle's admissions last night was that his cabaret career started only five years ago, bringing him back to the stage after an extended absence: "I fell into every aspect of show business." When he took his first bow five years ago, he was dusting off a singing voice that hadn't been used in quite some time, presenting what was essentially the pleasant voice of an amateur. Now, three solo acts and all those chat show episodes later (as well as some very apparent voice lessons) Robbie's growth is showing. Never before has he sounded so sure of himself, never before has his technique been so conspicuous, never before has he taken such risks in his choices, and it informs all of his storytelling. With that Master of a Maestro, Yasuhiko Fukuoka, guiding him, Rozelle managed the insane articulation of a jazz-infused "Everybody Says Don't" and an overwhelming medley of Mary Testa-informed melodies - performances that would leave a seasoned pro exhausted. He presented to his audience melodic moments that leaned into comedy, like a Duolingo Carpenters tune about singing, and that veered into touching (albeit with unintended giggles from the audiences) like a mashup of Elphaba and Eponine ballads. Rozelle attacked every single number with complete commitment and bonafide bravado, and though there were times when his vocal training hadn't yet reached the task at hand, the storytelling did not suffer. That continued vocal training will pay off, by the way - one of the areas that seems to trouble Robbie is that he does not have an ear for immediate pitch placement when there are a lot of factors on the table, and during a complicated medley or a duet harmony, precise pitch may evade him momentarily... but he gets there. Watching his areas of growth over the last five years and, indeed, during the ninety-minute program is one of the things that makes him so lovable and so admirable. He is willing to go places that scare other people.

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland What novice singer chooses to sing "Meadowlark"? Robbie Rozelle, that's who. And he does it beautifully. With Fukuoka's special arrangement and Robbie's acting skills, the emphasis steers away from power vocals and into tender, emotional storytelling... until the end of the number when Rozelle does, indeed, deliver the power notes, quite impressively. Hello, belter. Who chooses to duet with guest artists who aren't just better singers, they are Mauricio Martinez and Jonathan Hoover? Robbie Rozelle, that's who. And by inviting the world-class vocalist Martinez and internet superstar Hoover to sing with him, Rozelle forced himself to rise to the occasion, proving that he should be singing with them; both the emotional content and the money notes were completely within Rozelle's wheelhouse on his torch song mash-up with Mauricio and his Sunday In The Park With George Patti LuPone parody with Hoover. Both duets brought down the house and the LuPone Lady moment led to a mid-show standing O. Simply put: Robbie Rozelle loves himself and accepts himself for who he is as a person and as an artist, and, unwilling to serve his fans, family, and followers anything remotely resembling mediocrity, he will continue to push himself to greater heights in his craft, in real-time, right before those fans' very eyes.

And that is what puts one hundred thirty butts in seats at Birdland.

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE was a one-off but there are many great shows to see at Birdland. Visit their website HERE.

Robbie Rozelle has a website HERE.

Visit the Yasuhiko Fukuoka website HERE.

HERE is the Mauricio Martinez Instagram page.

THIS is the Jonathan Hoover website.

The distinguished and deserving of praise THE NEXT ONE band was The Two Drink Minimum:

Piano: Yasuhiko Fukuoka

Bass: Wes Bourland

Drums: Mike Lunoe

Violin: Johnny Wise

Cello: Samuel Quiggins

Reeds: David Ashton

Robbie Rozelle gets a gets a four out of five microphones rating for the use of a lyric sheet, tablet, or music stand on Wes Bourland's wonderful brand-new song "My Own Fairy Tale" - it should be an exciting number to see, memorized, in Rozelle's next show.

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland
Yasuhiko Fukuoka

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland
Mauricio Martinez

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland
Jonathan Hoover

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland BWW Review: Robbie Rozelle THE NEXT ONE at Birdland Won't Be His Last One at Birdland

Photos by Stephen Mosher


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