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Review: GAVIN LEE STEPS OUT WITH FRED ASTAIRE Is Toe-Tapping Fun at 54 Below

This reviewer was thrilled to have stepped back into the “Golden Age'' of Hollywood at 54 Below

By: Jun. 15, 2024
Review: GAVIN LEE STEPS OUT WITH FRED ASTAIRE Is Toe-Tapping Fun at 54 Below  Image
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This reviewer was thrilled to have stepped back into the “Golden Age'' of Hollywood for 54 Below’s amazing show, aptly titled Gavin Lee: Steppin Out with Fred Astaire on June 14, 2024.  The two-time Tony nominee brought the filled venue on a sophisticated and jaunty ride through the life of his childhood idol, Fred Astaire.  Lee traveled from Astaire’s humble vaudeville beginnings as a child act with his sister Adele through his Broadway and West End theater success to his crowning glory as RKO dancing movie star.

A UK native, Gavin Lee is truly the embodiment of the old-time “song and dance” man. In addition to a strong and rich singing voice, Lee is also a phenomenal tap dancer. Add to this double barrel of talent some intense high energy and you have the perfect performer to replicate the repertoire of the famed Astaire. 

Decked out in a suave black tuxedo, the dapper singer and dancer jumped right into Astaire’s signature piece “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” (Irving Berlin). He told of how as a child in suburban Suffolk, England, it was the thrill of seeing those old Fred and Ginger black and white flicks on the television that inspired him in his own career on the stage.  This reviewer, like many others, knows exactly where he is coming from - the media of theater and old films are powerful potions of creative incentive to a young person who seeks it.  

Along the way, Gavin Lee provided the Fred Astaire history and many backstories.  Moving from his early days dancing as a child performer with his sister, Adele, where the youngsters worked their way up the early 20th century’s vaudeville circuit, through the siblings’ meteoric rise to fame on the Broadway and West End stages where they hobnobbed with royalty, to Adele’s subsequent marriage into the British aristocracy  -  thus creating the impetus for Fred’s solo career as a dancing movie star (cue Ginger Rogers).  From 1933 to 1939, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the reigning royalty at RKO studios, actually saving the studio finances during the deep and dark days of the  Depression.  Despite all their hard work and perfection, these two box office giants made their dancing look spontaneous and easy, surely giving a boon to all and any would-be dancers all over the world.

Mesmerizing performances this evening included “Cheek to Cheek” (Irving Berlin) - where the audience was told Astaire's trouble with partner Ginger Roger’s elaborate film costumes began (yes, that glorious feathered gown concoction shed everywhere on Fred), the upbeat medley “A Foggy Day / Isn’t This a Lovely Day/ Puttin’ On The Ritz / Steppin’ Out with My Baby (George Gershwin / Irving Berlin), the bewitching ballad “Night and Day” (Cole Porter) and of course, “Fascinating Rhythm” (George Gershwin) among others.  

Like Fred Astaire, the debonair Gavin Lee made the singing and dancing look easy.  This reviewer was thrilled and overwhelmed by his talent and showmanship!  Like Astaire himself, Gavin Lee has starred on Broadway and London’s West End stages including as Bert in Mary Poppins, Jerry Travers in the West End production of Top Hat and a role he originated that of Squidward in SpongeBob, SquarePants, The Broadway Musical, among his many theatrical and film achievements.

Gavin Lee: Steppin Out with Fred Astaire featured the tour de force of talent that is Gavin Lee along with Brian Taylor (musical director / piano), Corey Shutzer (bass) and Adam Wolfe (drums).  

Find great shows to see on the 54 Below website here.

Follow Gavin Lee on Instagram.


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