Steve Ross: I Won’t Dance – Steve Ross Plays and Sings Fred Astaire

| May 29, 2016

Steve Ross

I Won’t Dance – Steve Ross Plays and Sings Fred Astaire

The Cabaret at Germano’s, Baltimore, MD, April 10, 2016

Reviewed by Michael Miyazaki for Cabaret Scenes

Photo: Kevin Alvey

Photo: Kevin Alvey

Somehow, the cumulative effect of watching Steve Ross, called an “American Cabaret Treasure,” sing classic material from the American Popular Songbook introduced by the dapper Fred Astaire is a perfect storm of cabaret sophistication.

Although Ross opened with a medley of songs about dancing, including “I Want to Be a Dancin’ Man” and “I Won’t Dance,” he stressed Astaire’s talent for giving rhythm and romance a voice in his vocal performances. Ross hit the expected biographical points for Astaire with illustrative songs—his early stage success with sister Adele (“Fascinating Rhythm”/”Oh, Lady Be Good!”), his success in the movies (“My Shining Hour,” a standout), and his latter television and recording work (“City of the Angels”—which Astaire wrote with Tommy Wolf— a delightful discovery).

As a singer/pianist, Ross has musical flexibility that allows him to pivot effortlessly when doing intricate medleys and to perfectly punctuate comic material. Although most notable for a soigné wit, Ross can also provide tremendous depth of feeling in a ballad like Porter’s “After You, Who?”—performing its brutal honesty. Most important, though, he is an incredibly genial host who forges a strong connection with his audience.  This is an especially notable feat when one considers the fact that he is blocked behind a piano for most of his show.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, DC/Maryland/Virginia, DC/Maryland/Virginia Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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