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Review: Sam Gravitte Stars In SONGS THAT RAISED ME at Orinda Theatre

Review: Sam Gravitte Stars In SONGS THAT RAISED ME at Orinda Theatre

Wicked star Sam Gravitte grew up with a soundtrack aided by his Broadway parents, Beau Gravitte and Tony winning mom Debbie Gravitte.

Sam Gravitte - Songs That Raised Me

Live at the Orinda Concert Series

Orinda Theatre, Orinda, California

29 January 2023

Wicked star Sam Gravitte grew up with a soundtrack aided by his Broadway parents, Beau Gravitte and Tony winning mom Debbie Gravitte. For his West Coast cabaret debut Songs That Raised Me, Sam lends his sweet tenor to an eclectic setlist including, of course, some Broadway chestnuts and a few originals.

An old Cy Coleman/ Joseph McCarthy tune "Why Try and Change Me Now" , originally sung by Sinatra, shows Gravitte can dip into the Great American Songbook and give it a contemporary sound. Backed by pianist Emily Whitaker and jazz guitarist Ravi Campbell, Sam strapped on an acoustic guitar to add another element to the mix on an original piece titled " Ties That Bind" illustrating that this guy is much more than a pretty face.

Its not often you hear an Appalachian folk tune, but "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies" recorded by the likes of the Chieftains, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, was lovely and thoughtful. From his role as Wicked's Fiyero came "Dancing Through Life" about living the "unexamined" life. Sam leans towards the high end of the tenor range stretching his range, but never cracking. Two Sondheim numbers show off his Broadway capabilities; "Finishing the Hat" from Sunday in the Park with George and his encore of "No One is Alone" from Into the Woods.

My favorite offering was composer Jake Landau's "The Coin Toss", a 4-part song cycle that Sam premiered at NYC's Birdland. A coin flip is to decide whether or not to text an ex-lover, but the coin spirals up impossibly high into the sky and doesn't come back down. It's a very modern hip musical number that's exciting, complex and innovative. It's a showpiece for Sam, making best use of his vocals and acting skills.

Achieving success so early at such a young age can be a double-edged sword. Its great for the ego and the pocket book, but what happens when the competition and lack of roles becomes an issue? Gravitte has the talent to find those stretch opportunities and the moxy to stay current and relevant.

Next up at the Orinda: America's Got Talent finalist and Pink Martini vocalist Jimmie Herrod, February 19th.



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From This Author - Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a writer for Cabaret Scenes magazine, contributor to ForAllEvents and now BroadwayWorld. He started writing rock reviews for his college newspaper in the 1970’s, produced a va... (read more about this author)


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