BWW Review: SEAN PATRICK MURTAGH'S MARIO! Soars at The Green Room 42
Heigh Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
Dearlings! On August 14th the ever so delicious Sean Patrick Murtagh (He Might be Irish -wink-) made his New York solo cabaret debut to an SRO room filled with roaring, appreciative music lovers at The Green Room 42. With to die for classical leading man looks made even more handsome by a tailored black suit, crisp white shirt, and black tie, Mr. Murtagh's replete and powerful voice filled The Green Room with O Sole Mio.
You read that right Meine Damen und Herren, not the usual opening number for a nightclub, but then Murtagh's show, Mario!, is not our usual cabaret show. Many club acts are built around standing center stage and belting out a collection of show tunes and standards - and while there is a sprinkling of Cole Porter here and a dab of Jerome Kern there, the biggest portion of the evening was opera. And why not? After all, Mr. Murtagh's lovely show is a love letter to his idol, famed tenor of yesteryear, Mario Lanza - a feat because Murtagh openly and amusingly admitted to his audience that he is a lyric baritone. If you're reading this you must be FAB enough to know what that is... Anyway, It doesn't show because whatever exercises he has done to get his voice in shape for this program, it paid off: Murtagh's ability with opera is stunning, as was evidenced by an adoring audience who didn't miss the obligatory Sondheim medley that usually falls in the place where Ave Maria landed last night, and was SHE ever glad.
My dears, "artist-specific" cabaret shows can be tricky, particularly if the presentation is about an opera singer the public has largely forgotten, and an artist doing an act of this nature can run the risk of presenting a history lesson (I'm snoring as I type that). Fortunately, Sean Parick made a personal connection with his audience, walking among them during Funiculi Funicula (which he turned into a sing-along), joking with them from the stage, even flirting ever so slightly, a not unpleasant experience for the receptive (and surprisingly young!) group of people who hung on his every word and note, every one perfectly mixed by his sound designer, the adorable Marty Gasper.
The fabulously engaging Mr. Murtagh spent a good deal of his show talking about who Mario Lanza was (the greatest tenor ever to sing in Hollywood movies), how he came to his love of the artist, and his relationship with the voice teacher who introduced him to Lanza. Murtagh's respect for the tenors and teachers who came before is clear by his heart-felt patter and the dedication he has put into singing this music ("No nachos! No tequila!" "I need a Negroni - it's been a month!"). The likable bari/tenor also paid tribute to his family from Ireland (see.. Told ya. IRISH!), Mexico and El Salvador, sharing of himself, his pride in his heritage, of his ambitions and those of his family (delivering perfect Irish and Spanish accents), and the clever way in which he deals with their demands that he sing the music of his ancestors (spoiler alert: it involves distracting Grannies with his siblings' tattoos). In honor of those Grannies, Sean Patrick gave out with a sigh-inducing Danny Boy and a smile-inducing Granada, making proud members of his family who flew in for the event.
Mr. Murtagh's director, Chris Giordano of the blue blue eyes, has helped him to develop a show with purpose that never bores. It entertains and it shares the men in the spotlight: Murtagh, Mario, and Richard; the special voice teacher who changed one singer's life by introducing him to the work of another singer. The cabaret patter is equal parts informative, amusing, touching and amazingly lacking in pretension. There is little about the show that needs fine-tuning (even if the piano on the stage could use some), and musical director Cody Dry and SPM make the evening soar. And speaking of soaring... Our handsome star sang a breathtaking rendition of My Romance (Giving a well-earned shout out to arranger Blake Allen) that showed off the meat of his voice, rich and full, and that also displayed his understanding of the depth of feeling behind the lyrics. It was simply one of many moments in a night that left everyone so spellbound that, upon hearing the evening was over, dear readers, there was a collective, audible sigh... "Don't worry! There's an encore!" To be exact: there were two encores.
The one thing we cabaret aficionados should hope for is that Sean Patrick Murtagh decides that Mario! is deserving of an encore because everyone, nightclub goer or opera buff, will find something (or someone -wink-) to love at this show.
For songs, voice and eye candy, we give this show 4 out of 5 Rainbows