BWW Review:Broadway's James Snyder Performs Engaging SOLILOQUY
Actor/singer James Snyder premiered his touring cabaret show Soliloquy at the Catalina Jazz Club under the prolific banner Chris Isaacson Presents Thursday July 20. Snyder is one of those handsome Broadway leading men whose magnetic appeal is greatly assisted not only by boyish charm but more importantly by an infectiously off beat sense of humor, unpredictability...and... he has one of the most beautifully powerhouse tenor/baritone voices onstage anywhere. I can only think of one or two others who fill the bill as completely well as Snyder.
This is not to say that Soliloquy, which ran about 95 minutes, was in perfect shape. This was the very first performance, and the little mistakes, I believe, add color and diversity to a live cabaret show. It was delightful to hear Snyder say facetiously, to his wife Jackie in the audience from time to time, "It's going really well." He stopped and started more than once, but that's OK. His anecdotes about growing up in Sacramento, attending USC and returning to Music Circus in Sacramento recently to essay Beauty and the Beast were all endearing.
Backing Snyder on drums was Paul Gonzales, and Ron Suffredini on bass, Chris Halo on guitar, and Alexander Georgakis on piano, who also served as musical director. All were incredibly skilled. Guest stars were songwriter Zina Goldrich and one of the stars of Bare in LA, Payson Lewis. More about them later!
Soliloquy was chosen as the title of the cabaret, as all selections are soliloquies or sung monologues from shows old and new, with of course the most famous "Soliloquy" from Carousel, closing the show. Snyder, with his engaging humor, teased the audience two or three times throughout the show, having Georgakis play the opening bars as if he were about to sing it. It became a sort of running gag.
The evening was certainly not lacking variety. Other highlights included: a dynamic "Something's Coming" from West Side Story; a lovely "Streets of Dublin" from A Man of No Importance - Snyder tossed a coin first and then did it with a brogue showing off his Irish heritage with pride; a gorgeous "Fanny" from Fanny, lovingly paying tribute to the original Broadway Fanny, Florence Henderson; the amusingly raunchy "Girl Can I Kiss You with Tongue?" from Cry-Baby; an emotionally wrought "If I Can't Love Her" from Beauty and the Beast; a fascinating delivery of "Broke" from In Transit; and a wonderful "Hey Kid" from If/Then. He compared his role of fathering a child in this show with Idina Menzel to the birth of his very own son, auditioned for the show with that gut feeling and nailed it. There was not a dry eye in the house. This also applied to his stunning rendition of the classic "Once Upon a Time" from All American.
There was a terrific rock salute as well to Rock of Ages followed by an original composition from his CD "LA Curse", as well as a beautiful salute to Barry Manilow and Marty Panzer with the affecting ballad "All the Time". Snyder showed another aspect of his versatility when he accompanied himself on guitar for "LA Curse". The country music side of his talent showed up in another original "Old River Road".
Payson Lewis dueted with Snyder on a thrilling "Bare" from the musical Bare. Lewis, another fine singer, was the perfect vocal match for Snyder, as they portrayed through song the troubled gay couple Jason and Peter from that show. Zina Goldrich played piano for Snyder for his exciting delivery of "Right Before My Eyes" from her show Ever After and also "There's Only You" from her latest work in progress Hollywood Romance.
To say that James Snyder is an unforgettably riveting performer is an understatement. He gives 150% to every tune, making you laugh and cry along the way. Don't miss Soliloquy when it plays across country in the coming months! Thanks are due to Chris Isaacson for producing the show as part of his great summer series Chris Isaacson Presents.
(photos: Tony DeMaio)