Jarrod Spector: Jukebox Life

| May 24, 2017

Jarrod Spector

Jukebox Life

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, May 11, 2017

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Jarrod Spector

A pint-sized three-year-old Jarrod sings woefully inappropriate material in an opening video clip of his new show Jukebox Life. Thirty-three years later, Spector has grown into his material while retaining his youthful exuberance, charm and chutzpah. His appearance on Star Search led to a casting as Gavroche in Les Misérables and Spector’s fate was sealed. His professional career has been closely aligned with jukebox musicals, the term referring to a production that uses catalog music instead of original material. He gained fame playing Frankie Valli in the widely popular Jersey Boys, followed that up playing Barry Mann in Beautiful, The Carole King Musical (Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical) , and is about to debut in Roman Holiday-The Musical,  an adaptation of the Academy Award-winning film, featuring the songs of Cole Porter.

Spector is a child of the ’90s and is heavily influenced by pop rock icons like Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen. Starring as Valli for so long (over 1500 performances) lends his sound a rock ‘n’ roll flavor clearly evidenced by his opening medley of “Jukebox Baby,” “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” and “Jukebox Hero.” With his parents’ obsession with Bobby Darin, it’s easy to connect the dots to Spector’s style. Musing on the appropriateness of a child singing “Mack the Knife,” Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht’s dark tale of serial murder, he launches into a very Darin-esque adult rendition.

Spector performs numbers included in Jersey Boys (“Cant’ Take My Eyes Off You,” “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love”) and a few used in Beautiful (“On Broadway,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” and “You’ve Got a Friend”), sometimes at the piano or on acoustic guitar. A sweet story of meeting his future bride Kelli Barrett precedes the humorous “Shiksa Goddess” (Jason Robert Brown) from The Last 5 Years. A lovely cover of the poignant “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables (sans microphone) was his finest vocal of the evening.

Jukebox Life is a nicely crafted autobiography that plays on his moniker as the “King of the Jukebox Musicals.” He even crafted a few side-by-side slides of his hero Bruce Springsteen just in case a jukebox musical of The Boss should come calling. Hopefully, the songs of Cole Porter in Roman Holiday will lead Jarrod Spector to a new phase of exploration and creativity. He’s got the vocal chops and the ingrained drive to succeed.

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Category: Cabaret Reviews, Regional, San Francisco, San Francisco Cabaret Reviews

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