BWW Reviews: Actor/Singer Kevin Earley Brings Uber Enjoyable ON THE RECORD to Sterling's
On Monday March 30 actor/singer Kevin Earley brought his cabaret show On the Record to a packed house of adoring fans at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal in NoHo, and it proved nothing short of a triumph. Earley's tenor is no stranger to these parts, as the Chicago born spent a lot of time from 2001 onward playing supporting and lead singing roles on legitimate stages in and around Los Angeles, such as his award-winning Rutledge in 1776, Terry Conner in Side Show, as well as leads in Can-Can and No Strings. He has also appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Death Takes a Holiday and A Tale of Two Cities.
Earley has a phenomenal range and has greatly honed his acting chops, so that now he can perform a cabaret with gusto and relative ease, in spite of the normal challenges and fears for any actor. In the oh so pleasant On the Record, he invited the audience to take a walk down memory lane with him as he literally presented a vinyl collection that has been a part of his surroundings since boyhood. His brisk repartee included lots of anecdotes about each score from which he sang at least one standard - he even played a record or two on a phonograph so that you could hear that unmistakable pop and crackle distinctive to record playing...all of this with a deliciously controlled tongue.in.cheek sense of humor. The show was lovingly directed by Julie Ann Emery, The delightful John Boswell served as musical director for the very entertaining and rapidly flowing 65 minutes.
Highlights of the evening included standards of Broadway from the 50s on up. Earley wasn't around for many of these early shows, but his mother filled in the background and inspired in him not only a love for the music but a desire to audition at a young age for singing roles in The Sound of Music, Shenandoah and South Pacific. He and his three brothers dressed up in George M. Cohan fashion and entertained as Mama's Boys with "Yankee Doodle Dandy", "Give My Regards to Broadway", "Harrigan" and "You're a Grand Old Flag". Another wonderful medley included "Almost Like Being In Love" from Brigadoon, "People Will Say We're in Love" from Oklahoma, "Only Make Believe" from Showboat and "If I Loved You" from Carousel. There were also snippets from Guys and Dolls with "Luck Be a Lady", and of course "Soliloquy" from Carousel, ideal for Earley's electric voice as is "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables. He gave his audience a choice of that or "Music of the Night" from Phantom. Thank heavens there was a resounding consensus for Les Mis.
Apart from Broadway vinyl, Earley's mom kept a lot of albums of pop artists like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Barry Manilow. Earley proceeded to praise Manilow for his meaningful, meticulously written songs with a beginning, middle and end and offered a remarkably memorable "This One's For You" as well as a rousing finale of Sinatra's "That's Life".
One terrifically comic moment came half way through the set when Earley introduced his accompanist Boswell as just a piano player. The two proceeded to burst into "You're Nothing Without Me" from City of Angels. Unforgettably funny and ingeniously executed!
Kevin Earley will hopefully return soon to New York and bring this exuberantly fun solo show On the Record to 54 Below where it may be recorded for posterity. Hint, hint to producers of Broadway Records! Earley's dynamic vocal instrument should be heard as much as possible on Broadway ... and on vinyl... well, CD. He is a great talent to be reckoned with, one of the best!
actress friend Misty Cotton joined Earley for recollections after the set
Photo: Photo Credit: Kevin Yatarola