Jason Wynn's Not the Same Old @#$%: The Seinfeld of Cabaret

By: Aug. 30, 2006
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In case you're wondering, no, we haven't censored the title of Jason Wynn's new cabaret show.  It really is called Not The Same Old @#$%, because, as the talented and charismatic star tells us, the evening will not be a tribute to some great composer, an overview of his acting career or a recap of the men who have screwed him over. 

After a number that mocks certain cabaret conventions ("What's doing at Don't Tell Mama? / I'll tell you what's doing at Don't Tell Mama…") Wynn explains that his show is really about nothing ("Just think of it as the Seinfeld of cabaret.") and that it's especially not about him! 

Having worked eight years in New York, bouncing between gigs as actor and music director, Wynn, at piano, leads a terrific ensemble including Greg Gibaldi (guitar), Orlando Torres (bass), Jim Mansfield (percussion) and singers Miles Phillips (who also directs), Rob Langeder, Kristopher Monroe and Dara Seitzman.  And although he sings a few token theatre songs (including a stirring rendition of the Kurt Weill/Langston Hughes "Lonely House"), most of the evening is spent with Wynn loaning smooth, unaffected and well-phrased vocals to the work of popular singer/songwriters like Justin Timberlake ("Pop"), Kelly Clarkson ("Because of You"), Phil Collins ("Trashin' The Camp") and Charlotte Church ("Confessional Song"). 

But by far the best written songs in the show are Wynn's own compositions, featuring jaunty melodies and crisp character-driven lyrics.  As entertaining a performer as he certainly is, it's his music and lyrics that shine especially bright. 

In the spirit of Irving Berlin's great countermelody songs, "I Finally Got My Due" is a duet for a newly successful writer and the wife who puts up with living his shadow.  The funny and smoky-voiced Seitzman joins him in this cleverly staged number that's a real charmer.  In a more serious vein, they're joined by the richly voiced baritone Langeder in "Back To Then," where a woman considers life with an ex-lover who couldn't appreciate her, a corporate cog contemplates giving up financial security for the life he really wants, and a fellow longs to end his parade of one-nighters for real commitment.  In the sweetly moving "I Want Fine," Wynn sings, "I don't want fortune / I don't want to be famous / I just don't want to fall." 

In a collaboration of sorts, he provides new gay-themed lyrics to Billy Joel's "Captain Jack."  It's a mix of fine lyric storytelling and outstanding vocals, mixing quirky sexuality and stark, emotional drama. 

Under Phillip's direction, the show is a smooth mix of styles that left me wanting more.  Jason Wynn's laid-back sense of humor and casual sexiness (he performed the entire opening performance in a sleeveless black t-shirt because several audience members moaned with disappointment when he tried putting on a jacket) seem natural and effortless.  Not The Same Old @#$% really kicks ass.

Jason Wynn's Not The Same Old @#$% plays The Hideaway Room at Helen's at 7PM, August 30th and September 2nd


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