BWW Review: The Latest Presentation Of The Sensible Cabaret at The Duplex, Charlie Johnson's THIS IS A POP SHOW, Really Pops!
Heigh-Ho, My Merry Rainbow Tribe! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in cabareT to bring you all the T...
Thursday night's installment of The Sensible Cabaret at the history-making Duplex was a true jewel in the Sensible crown. What is the SENSIBLE CABARET you may well ask... Bobby will tell you. Each month A Sensible Theatre Co. presents their SENSIBLE CABARET - a musical offering that aims to elevate Queer & Allied artists here in New York City, and in their home base of Seattle, as well as advance the diversity agenda of inclusion through the arts. For March, Charlie Johnson's THIS IS A POP SHOW was a delightful mix of Pop songs, pop culture and a few hard-won theatre references. Hosted by the super cute Paul Flanagan in his hot pink "Tap Shorts," the queer sensibilities pervaded as Johnson, a young gender-bender, performed in a black lacy midriff, pleated taupe skirt, and a full face of makeup that accentuated his full manly beard. Accompanied by Musical Director/Arranger and also adorable Ethan Anderson with back-up vocals by Madge Dietrich and Ernie Pruneda, and bass player Alison Kelly, Johnson's program delighted his audience with renditions ranging from RUMOR HAS IT to SAY THAT YOU LOVE ME to GLORIOUS - which truly was... glorious.
Johnson's sharp, trumpet-like vocals are completely practiced and a study in professional stage presentation. Using the world of pop music to show his range (which is considerable) and vibrant musicality, his vocals, perhaps more suited to the musical theatre stage, folded beautifully into Anderson's arrangements of the pop program. He kept his show moving between numbers with a humorous patter that never seemed memorized. Embracing the cabaret-ness of his show, Charlie wrote a script, learned the script, and then threw the script away and just talked to his more than appreciative audience. He had a lot of friends there who cheered and supported, but even had the crowd been total strangers, this young man's charm and talent would have won them over completely. We know because Bobby never heard of Charlie Johnson before Thursday, but we will keep on hearing of him from now on. Running through his setlist like a youngster on a fave playground, Charlie kept each pop song familiar but with enough of his own vocal flair graduating to some amazing pyrotechnics that truly gave his crowd everything they wanted to hear. The aforementioned patter also proved something else - that Johnson is FUNNY! Clearly, this man is a man of the theatre who knows how to write to his strengths, build on his audience's energy, and take them where he wants them to go. During his intro to the set, Flannagan told the crowd that Sensible's first show on the west coast, the cult classic musical PAGEANT, had been directed by Charlie Johnson. In talking to the audience throughout the show, Johnson would jokingly make little nods and references to the theatre, something that, apparently, he had been dissuaded from doing by Mr. Anderson. Making it clear each time he landed a laugh about CHICAGO or a Sondheim show, Charlie told all that that Anderson must not have known what he was talking about by building even bigger laughs with his slow burn & turn to look upstage at his pianist.
In a surprising turn (for moi) midway through the evening, Flannagan showed that those who intro can also do. After returning to the stage to do a short interview with his pal, the pair made a fabulous, fun, funny friendship duet out of Our Lady Of The GaGa's HEY GIRL. Singing sweetly together in two very different voices that, nevertheless, blended beautifully in what Flannagan called his first time to ever sing a pop song on stage. So, though Charlie Johnson's voice might be a little more suited to the Broadway stage (and we hope he lands there sooner rather than later) his THIS IS A POP SHOW was a total home run, as is Sensible Theatre Co's. SENSIBLE CABARET, and since we suggest you check out BOTH, we give this evening a full 4 Out Of 5 Rainbows.
Here's a little more info... First, mark your calendars for the next Sensible Cabaret:
A Sensible Theatre Co. Presents its Bicoastal Cabaret, Featuring the fabulous Elijah Curry & Coulson Bingham!
The Sensible Cabaret | NYC - Monday, April 13th at 7:00 pm EST
The Duplex Cabaret Theatre
61 Christopher Street
New York, NY 10014
(at the Corner of 7th Avenue)
Ande Ye Olde FaceBooke: HERE
And Keep Up With All Things Sensible (Theatre Co.): HERE