Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre

Every Heart Is Made Stronger By Scars…

By: Jul. 02, 2022
Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre

Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre Heigh-Ho, My Merry Rainbow Tribe! Bobby Patrick, your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in cabareT to bring you ALL the Tea!

So, the Tea this week, my lambs, was served up on Thursday Night by the inimitable Ari Axelrod at The Birdland Theatre in ARI'S ARIAS, and when we say Tea we mean the capital T as in Terrific, Touching, and most importantly T-R-U-T-H. For the last few years now, AA has been building up a reputation in NYC for being tops in three disciplines - performer, teacher, and cabaret artiste, and with his shows previous to Thursday's performance, his truth has always taken the wheel ←- see what Bobby Did there? In December of '21 Broadway World's own Stephen Mosher saw and reviewed this same show at this venue, but the BUZZ created by that one-off performance was enough to prompt the powers that be to send little Bobby in to give it a spin... again. The list of accompanied songs for a solo voice into which Ari plumbed the depth of human experience included standards from the songbook's golden age, Broadway of yesterday & today, and interesting compositions from off the beaten path. One of these offerings, Lizzy McAlpin's PANCAKES FOR DINNER, did indeed, as AA put it, sound like what being in love feels like. Later in the program, after explaining that WEST SIDE STORY is the 8th wonder of the world and that Sondheim & Bernstein were the 9th & 10th, his performance of COOL, while accompanying himself on the conga drum, brought chills to all the listeners. To put heart into the sounds of percussion is an almost incomprehensible gift, but Axelrod, who is ALL heart, definitely has it. The other performing gifts he possesses are in his voice, whether singing or talking. A mix of warmth and passion that is continually reaching for something in a way that leaves that "something" an open question, it intrigues the mind, as well as the ears, and makes his audience go with him, wherever the destination. That word, destination, is probably the most telling descriptor of an Ari Axelrod show. While he takes his crowd many places in his performance, the ultimate destination is the heart, as he feels every rise & fall, every trip & stumble along the way, while always taking care of us, to ensure a soft landing.

Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre

ARI'S ARIAS is a show that has been tailored to fit AA like a fine silk tuxedo that he, then, has the courage to drape on, casually, for comfort's sake - bow tie untied, cumberbund loosened, jacket slung over the shoulder. In fact, his periodic doffing of his suit coat to play the conga or to make easier the rigorous movement he employs for IF I WERE A RICH MAN (Anatevka being a destination he dreams of one day) gives an almost "working man-of-the-people" feel to the piece throughout, a feeling that draws us ever closer to him. The pinnacle of the setlist came right in the middle with his SURGERY MEDLEY, a compilation of compositions by Scheuer, Finn, and Guettel that mapped in music the story Ari told of theReview: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre discovery of an Arnold Chiari Malformation in his brain stem that required delicate surgery but that cured some life-long difficulties and helped bring him to Thursday night's stage. Quite often, it is life-threatening moments that give us back our life with a new perspective - or in Ari's case, a ton of them. Another highlight was back at the conga for Jason Robert Brown's STARS AND THE MOON, a rendition for which Axelrod felt no compunction around being a man singing about the men in his life. Following this up with a visit from Leo, his dog named for Bernstein, AA sang the deeply moving Sondheim standard NOT WHILE I'M AROUND with Leo in his arms. What's that saying in show biz about working with children or animals my pets? There was not a dry eye or a hard heart in the house after this exquisite schmaltz. Finally, the show wrapped with the best performance of Sondheim's BEING ALIVE that this little rainbow boy has ever heard. Again, this was an Aria by Ari where all his gifts came to bear, in voice and acting and mannerisms, and all of that "reaching for something" we wrote of found its ultimate expression by reaching in song because the spoken word would be inadequate to the task. With creative consulting by the FABULOUS Jeff Harnar and Musical Direction/Keyboards by Lawrence Yurman, AA had all he needed to create an epic cabaret set that was truly a piece of theatre.

Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre

Finally, Bobby knows that all of us boys are a bit snotty about who may or may not sing OVER THE RAINBOW, and already in the past week(ish) we awarded the fab Debbie Wileman's Judy recreation with a gold star, but we must also stamp Ari's version with one as well. So pure, so loving, and just oh-so-good, he gets more than "a pass," he gets our whole-hearted co-sign any time he wants to sing about our beloved rainbow, and with that, dearlings we give ARI'S ARIAS our full...

5 Out Of 5 Rainbows

Keep up with Axelrod and don't miss this one the next time by watching his website: HERE

All Photos By Yours Truly, Bobby Patrick

Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre Review: Axelrod's Airs Are Treasures For The Ears In ARI'S ARIAS at The Birdland Theatre



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