Tuesday, June 25, 2013

cabaret review STEVEN ZUMBO, Don't Tell Mama's, June 21

Steven Zumbo's latest cabaret show is his best yet.  After having performed various shows at various cabaret clubs over the past fifteen plus years, Zumbo has definitely hit his stride in the last few years in the way he structures his shows.  You see, Steven is a naturally very funny guy, but a funny guy with a serious side too.  So, how do you find the right balance between the comedic and the serious to get across the person you are without making the show too much of a downer or too funny?  Well, Steven has figured out that balance and his current show perfectly gets across Steven's personality.

Entitled "Where the Hell Did I Put My Glasses?" Zumbo's show is his most themed one yet.  He often mentions how he eschews a theme, but he has actually come up with one - a show all about memory - that plays perfectly into his personality and the idea of getting older - something that almost everyone in the audience immediately identified with.   He has also come up with a winner of an opening number, a rewritten version of the hit song "Memory" from Cats that is all about memory loss.  With revised lyrics by Pam Peterson the song begins with "Midnight, I wake up and remember that I left the door open, with my groceries outside" and includes such other great lines like ,"Damn, what did I walk in this room for?"  and "Did I turn both burners off, or is my house on fire?"  The lyrics and Steven's delivery of them, ironically set against the well known music of "Memory" literally brought the house down. 

Steven's take on "The Kid Inside" from the Craig Carnelia musical Is There Life After High School? was another winner that allowed Steven to reflect back on the memories of our high school days we all remember, with a song that is reflective, touching and has a soaring end to it.  It is a song that begins somewhat quietly and then gets bigger and bigger as it goes on, and Steven was more than up to the challenge that the song required. 

For the past several years Zumbo has always included a "Broadway Backwards" moment in his shows where he sings a Broadway show tune that is usually performed by a woman.  His selection for this show couldn't have been better with the hilarious Stephen Sondheim/Jule Styne Gypsy song "You Gotta Get a Gimmick."  Performed in the musical by three female strippers, Steven used a few simple props to get across the three characters in the song and blew the roof off the cabaret room with his performance.  His stripper gyrations alone were worth the $15 cover charge.

Another highlight, and a nod to the Supreme Court's pending ruling on Same Sex Marriage was "Get Me to the Church on Time" from My Fair Lady where Zumbo and musical director Gerry Dieffenbach performed a rousing take on that crowd pleaser.  "Way Ahead of My Time" by Peter Mills starts with some serious chords and lyrics before turning into a true comic gem about being different from the other cavemen.  Steven's delivery was exceptional and included some added Fosse-like dance moves to make the song even more over the top then it already was.   But there were some ballads and quiet songs that Steven also expertly delivered including a lovely "The Way We Were," a heartfelt "It Was Me" and a bouncy "You Go to My Head."  An Encore of "Over the Rainbow" was simply stunning. 

With a winning personality, excellent song selections and short but well thought out patter, Zumbo is really at the height of his game.

Steven performs two more times this week- don't miss it!

Direction by Helen Baldassare, musical direction by Gerry Dieffenbach

Don't Tell Mama's website

No comments:

Post a Comment