Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

A solo show debut some time in the making comes at the right moment.

By: Feb. 13, 2023
Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER
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There are times when you sit in a cabaret room, waiting to see a newcomer to the industry in their solo show debut, and, within moments of their opening number, you know that you are seeing something special starting. That is what happened on February 11th at Don't Tell Mama, when this writer (finally) caught Alex de Suze's LATE BLOOMER.

Ms. de Suze has been playing her club act since September 28th, but scheduling conflicts didn't align for this reviewer to take a trip to the iconic Midtown Manhattan cabaret club to catch the show, in spite of urgings from other industry members and invitations from Ms. de Suze and her director, award-winning industry creative James Beaman, to attend the production. But thanks to a break in personal programming (due to a busted leg) I was able travel the three blocks from home to DTM, get my butt into a seat, prop my leg up, and catch an encore performance of Late Bloomer... and I couldn't be happier.

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

The first flag of promise at Late Bloomer was the company that awaited de Suze's arrival onto the stage. With marvelous Matt Scharfglass on bass, divine David Silliman on drums, and terrific Tracy Stark musical directing from the piano, there was a reasonable guarantee that the music would be of the highest quality... but, there, behind the piano, was a trio of women that represents the best in the business, poised for duty on background vocals - from left to right, Ellen White, Sierra Rein, and Goldie Dver. This is a full band being led by one of the most popular MDs in the business, and a show being captained by one of the most respected leaders in the industry. Yes, this was a promise of greatness.

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

So when Alex de Suze opened her mouth for one sentence (one sentence!) of "I Was a Punk Rocker" it was clear that there is a new girl in town, and that her trajectory is one that will be loaded with praise and promise. This is no ordinary voice that Alex de Suze has - it is rangy, it is unique, it is lush and it is filled with nuance, colors, and textures. This may be a solo show debut but it is not a performing debut: there is no doubt that Alex de Suze has been well taught and that she has taken out time to find her voice as an artist so that her instrument as a technician has the greatest showcase of display. With her personal, quirky, and original musical cabaret, Alex de Suze has announced herself in style.

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

In her opening monologue, Ms. de Suze discusses her status as a late bloomer, detailing events in her life that illustrate that position, from her first kiss to the birth of her son. With irresistible, at times almost nerdy, adorability, Alex shares her stories, deftly applying them to everything from pop music (a smashing mash-up of "Superstar" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song" conceived by Beaman and arranged by Stark) to musical theater ("Another Life" from Bridges of Madison County performed in her OWN cadence and rhythms, not an easy task with this particular composition) to the operatic (a composition by Rachel J. Peters titled "Moon and Planet" was an especially artistic and rewarding offering in the program). There is right and proper flow in her script, as stories segue from her child to "Children Will Listen" and from her schoolyard crush to "He Touched Me" - this is good writing, and no mistake, although there was a somewhat lengthy period of time during the second act of the show when the topic of late blooming seemed to disappear, only to return during the third act. It was missed, and, perhaps, de Suze and master craftsman Beaman could circle back around with some slight pieces of conversation that might render the subject consistent from very start to very finish. It's an interesting topic, one upon which Alex expounds with pathos (an encore from "Free To Be You and Me"), passion (evening highlight, Yola's "Whatever You Want"), and lots and lots of humor (a hi-ho-larious "Drop Dead Gorgeous" is a big hit).

De Suze's ability to connect is not limited to the subtext of her lyrics or the trajectory of her script, oh, no - Alex is in it with her audience, going off-book for delicious asides with the crowd, which included her young son (whose presence in the audience at every show might be something to consider, for the delightful young man seated near this writer carries with him a positive energy that rivals that of his mother). Alex de Suze is a natural, and it might be said that coming to the solo show experience at this time of her life is not the journey of a late bloomer, for she and the industry seem to be in perfect synchronicity right now. The timing looks to be just right.

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

There are a couple of observations on Late Bloomer that this writer would like to offer, merely by way of assisting Team de Suze in their efforts, if I might. Alex has a wonderfully rangy voice, with gorgeous high notes and glorious low notes, all of which deserve, nay, need, to be heard - they are too beautiful to miss. Alex also has power, particularly on her high notes: no trouble there. Some of those rich, throaty low notes are being lost under a band (including the backup vocals) that is, at times, on top of her. Whether it is achieved by Ace tech director Adam DeCarlo or by Tracy and The Band, I might offer that a staff meeting could uncover a way to ensure those beautiful tones make it to the ears of the audience.

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

The other matter that this writer would like to offer be revisited is a duet that Ms. de Suze performed with longtime best pal Richard Binder. The twosome clearly adores one another, and their long history as friends and colleagues shows in their affection for each other. However, by the time Mr. Binder joined Ms. de Suze on the stage, there was a relationship being cultivated between the headliner and the audience, as well as a relationship being cultivated between everyone in the room and Tracy Stark's musical arrangements. The new entities of Mr. Binder and his arrangement of a mashup between Cole Porter, Suzanne Vega, and Ashley Monroe created a noticeable disconnected moment in the proceedings. As devoted as the duo is to one another, this outing affected the forward motion of the story in Late Bloomer.

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

These two observations are not to be taken as criticism, merely notes, and notes are always open to interpretation - to be taken or discarded. What isn't open to interpretation is this writer's estimation of Alex de Suze and the generous gifts that the cabaret industry will receive by her choice to enter the ranks of the musical storytellers treading the boards of the small venue community. Alex de Suze is (more than obviously) an original, and, as such, an interesting and exciting new artist that will be fun to watch, as her talent (late or otherwise) blooms before us all.

Late Bloomer will play Don't Tell Mama on February 15th at seven pm. Information and reservations can be accessed HERE.

Alex de Suze has a webiste HERE.

Photos by Stephen Mosher; Visit the Stephen Mosher website HERE.

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER

Review: Alex de Suze Brightens Don't Tell Mama With LATE BLOOMER



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