Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration!

Robert Bannon's Pride Playlist on June 14th was delightful

By: Jun. 16, 2024
Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration!
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Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration! On my way to Robert Bannon’s Pride Playlist, I knew exactly how the first few moments would play out. I’d enter to find a room full of unbelievably excited people, laughing and smiling as they interacted across tables and groups. And that is exactly what happened. Because wonderful, friendly people are exactly the kind that Robert's gift of joy-making attracts.

After the attractive band took their places, the show opened with the queer classic “I’m Coming Out” (Edwards/Rodgers), and Robert took to the stage in a rather dapper, beautifully tailored dusty rose suit. After a charming welcome, he launched into “(Simply) The Best” (Chapman/Knight), which sat perfectly in his voice. Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration! Mitch Bowers put some gas in the engine driving the song with great work on the drums. Before the first song was over, people were on their feet dancing and singing. Having seen Robert previously, I’ve come to learn this is a trademark of his shows—one that I love.

Robert is a party and always has a genuine smile on his face, as if, in his own impish way, he is inviting anyone with joy in their hearts to join him. And on this evening of diva worship, he had no shortage of people ready to grab his hand and follow wherever he would lead.

Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration! The night was a delight from start to finish, but some moments stood above the rest. His TV Theme Song Medley was bliss. "Alone" (Steinberg/Kelly) and "All By Myself" (Carmen/Rachmaninoff) made for a brilliant mash-up, particularly when he transitioned from a tender high note to a rocking chorus. His Whitney mash-up brought the crowd to their feet. Bannon showcased some beautiful high notes on “If I Could Turn Back Time” (Warren) and the "Rolling In The Deep" (Atkins/Epworth) / "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough" (Ashford/Simpson) medley. Bannon invited the audience to join Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration! him on his "Express Yourself" (Madonna/Bray) / "Born This Way" (Germanotta/Laursen) medley and in the show’s closer "Last Dance" (Jabara), both of which were great fun and fantastic songs for his voice.

If that wasn’t enough, he had guests! On "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (John/Taupin), which showcased Bannon’s voice perfectly, he was joined by the insanely talented and handsome Mauricio Martinez, who was absolute perfection. Together, they were a breathtaking combo. The always funny Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration! Robbie Rozelle, who also directed the show, took to the stage for a very funny take on “Does He Love You,” where the two battled for the affections of their shared musical director and show pianist, Yasuhiko Fukuoka. And in the final duet, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” Natalie Joy Johnson took the stage like some magical punk-rock-Betty-Boop-perfection-fever-dream and proved herself to be a firecracker with powerhouse vocals. There were stars on that stage, baby!

I’d like to make special mention of the song, “I Think He Knew” by Bannon and Matt Gould,Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration! who happened to be in the audience. The song and Bannon’s vocals were tender, beautiful, and heartbreaking (in the best way). Bannon struggled in the end, emotion coming into his voice, and that pure honesty brought the audience, myself included, to tears.

A nod must be made to Yasuhiko Fukuoka whose arrangements, musical direction, and work on the keys was glorious. In addition to his number, Robbie Rozell’s nuanced direction kept the show tight. The band, Wesley Bourland (bass), David Cinquegrana (guitar), and Mitch Bowers (drums) was top-notch. Cinquegrana’s guitar work on “I Think He Knew” was particularly memorable. Sam Foti and Kris Carrasco provided background vocals. In addition to killer voices (Foti hit a delicious high in “Emotions” and Kris Carrasco broke every glass in the room with his unexpectedly high and perfect note on “Everlasting Love”), they had personality to spare.

Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration! Robert is a showman. Not only is he fun, he’s funny in that easy and natural way that makes you instantly comfortable. His audiences come for a good time and he more than delivers. I will say, there is one major flaw with every Robert Bannon show, at least the two I’ve seen. They aren’t long enough. Every time, I wish there were just a few more songs. And in this case, I wish one was from my diva supreme, Cyndi Lauper… But maybe that was his evil master plan to lure me back next year. Thanks, Robert, for putting your special sparkle into Pride.


To learn more about Robert, visit his website.

Find more upcoming shows at 54 Below on their website.

Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration!

Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration!

Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration!

Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration!

Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration!

Review: Robert Bannon's PRIDE PLAYLIST at 54 Below Is a Celebration!

Photo Credit: Nathan Johnson



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