BWW Reviews: Male Vocalists Dozier and Torren Rule The Cabaret Roost In April . . . From Completely Opposite Ends Of The Spectrum
It's not exactly a secret that cabaret has for decades been a world dominated by female entertainers. Sylvia Syms, Julie Wilson, Margaret Whiting, Karen Akers, KT Sullivan, Karen Mason and myriad others have assumed the top notches of the art form. But, perhaps, men might be taking their place among the front lines.Michael Feinstein has, of course, burst forth as one of the premiere male artists of the genre since the early 1980s. And over the years, the cabaret community has watched the splendid emergence of such entertainers as Steve Ross, Jeff Harnar, David Staller, Billy Stritch, Ricky Ritzel, Joel Silberman, Parker Scott, Michael Garin, Eric Comstock, and both the late David Gurland and Sebastian Hobart assume their rightful position within the arena as utter champions. Less well-known but no-less-remembered are Evan Matthews, Ken Helman, Gary Wright, Anthony Santelmo Jr, Bobby Belfry, Jeff Macauley, and a crop of newcomers that includes Joshua Dixon, Kristoffer Lowe, Joshua Warr, Jonathan Whitton and Jaron Vesely besides many more. But two in particular have descended popularly upon the scene with shows in April, namely Kevin Dozier (last Wednesday night) at Metropolitan Room and Frank Torren (this past Sunday afternoon) at Don't Tell Mama. Though diametrically opposed in an artistic sense, both show why the masculine efforts of the genre shouldn't be taken lightly. Dozier (photos top) who has won both MAC and Bistro Awards, completely shines with his new show A New York Romance, the title number of which was composed by the late lamented Rusty Magee.The show glistens as an utter love letter to the Big Apple. Accompanied by musical director Alex Rybeck at the ivories and Sean Harkness on guitar, Jered Egan on bass and percussion by Tony Tedesco, the gentleman takes us on a tremendous journey in which the standouts include a startling rendition of "Sailing On" by Alan Menken and Dean Pitchford, as well as "Almost" by Cheryl Wheeler (accompanied solely by Harkness on guitar) and, in a completely uproarious moment of gut-wrenching humor, the theme from the classic sitcom "The Brady Bunch" set to the tune of "On My Own" from Les Miserables. Torren (right) couldn't be more completely different from Dozier and yet no less riveting. Older, unquestionably distinguished while tuxedo-clad (which lends itself to a sleight-of-hand trick involving his bow tie) midway through the action, the gentleman unleashes a magical display of music sung not only in English but also Spanish and Italian. Rick Unterberg provides superb musical direction on such numbers as "Me and My Best Friend" and "Besame Mucho," and while Torren's song styling may not be everyone's particular cup of tea, his charm and glorious charisma simply explode forward from the proscenium. It should be noted as well that the technical direction by Jason Ellis couldn't remotely be more top-notch, and that he evokes the days when Jan Wallman still ran clubs all over town and created the elegant traditions that have lasted so long within the cabaret community. Ergo, it may well be the males on which to keep an eye for the remainder of the year. Which is not to say that the women of the community have anything about which to worry as far as vocal achievement. But the male vocalists may provide more than a few surprises when the season begins anew this autumn.