My Year with Hillary
Rockwell Table & Stage, Los Angeles, CA, March 12, 2017
Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes
Some people seek to resolve negative issues by turning to therapy or social media. Alex Mohajer sought to resolve his emotions about last year’s election results through an evening of cabaret.
But spoken catharsis was more the evening’s theme than music, with only six songs during 75 minutes. And despite the show’s title, the evening focused less on the 15 or so months he spent campaigning for Hillary Clinton and more on the post-election period, when Mohajer—an attorney by profession—became a political writer and cable news personality as a way to continue to express his views.
Despite all his pain, however, Mohajer never mentioned the new president or disparaged him in any way, explaining that the primary goal of the show was to get people to communicate without rancor, hoping they become adversaries who seek to win arguments rather than enemies who seek to destroy each other—a point he illustrated with a stirring, gospel-tinged take on “Lean on Me” (Bill Withers) that seemed to reflect a lot of his emotional turmoil. He also communicated his pain in a spectacular, clear-voiced “Going to a Town,” a mournful ballad he said was written by Rufus Wainwright after George W. Bush’s election. And he conveyed a lot of emotional regret in a straight-ahead version of “Seriously,” by Sara Bareilles, which he said was written in the voice of President Obama reflecting Clinton’s loss.
Mohajer is always a strong, expressive singer with a multi-octave range, which he used to its full power—in a duet with Caitlin Gollogly—on Stephen Schwartz’s uplifting “When You Believe,” from The Prince of Egypt, particularly when the music swelled higher than he apparently expected, forcing him to use his head voice to hit the song’s final notes. His singing always seems effortless, regardless of the range, though, on this particular evening, while his voice reflected energy and power, his persona did not as he stayed glued to his stool.
Expressing his self-described “sad but hopeful” feelings, he ended on a quiet, reflective note with John Lennon’s sweet “Imagine.” The show, directed by Clifford Bell, featured strong musical backing from Musical Director Tim Butterworth (piano), his brother Jon Butterworth (drums), and Blake Strauss (bass).