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Benjamin Eakeley: Broadway Swinger

| May 14, 2016

Benjamin Eakeley

Broadway Swinger

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, May 9, 2016

Reviewed  by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Photo: Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Photo: Genevieve Rafter Keddy

What are the necessary tools required to be a successful cabaret artist? A voice, of course. But also stage presence and confidence. I had seen Benjamin Eakeley and very much enjoyed his performance in She Loves Me a few days prior to seeing him on stage at Feinstein’s/ 54 Below. Often, the qualities needed to be a Broadway performer do not transfer to the cabaret stage, so I was not sure what to expect when seeing his debut as a solo cabaret performer. Eakeley has a great masculine sound, an engaging personality and exudes confidence on stage, making him seem like a seasoned cabaret star. His show, Broadway Swinger, is a musical journey through the 1960s, cleverly showing how changes in society produced changes in Broadway musicals, or, was it the other way around?

The well-thought-out song list was performed chronologically, with each successive song showing how attitudes towards sex were evolving in the ’60s. Eakeley opened with a booming “I’ve Got Your Number” (Little Me) that led into “Where Is Love?” which was performed by a child in Oliver!, but given new meaning by Eakeley. He showed off his comedic side introducing “She Loves Me,” which he does not perform in the current production. Nonetheless, his expressive and kinetic performance was superb. His “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?” (On a Clear Day…) almost made me forget Eydie Gormé’s iconic recording. After mentioning how Stephen Sondheim changed how Broadway musicals sounded, Eakeley sang “Take Me to the World” (from the television production Evening Primrose). Selections from The Apple Tree, Cabaret, Hair and Promises, Promises displayed how sex became much more a part of Broadway musicals as the decade progressed. Eakeley closed with a big-finishing number, “Kiss Her Now” (Dear World) from 1969. For his encore, he went back to 1961 for “Make Someone Happy” (Do Re Mi).

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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