Bobby Conte Thornton: Blame It on My Youth

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Bobby Conte Thornton

Blame It on My Youth

Venetian Room, San Francisco, CA, May 31, 2015

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Bobby-Conte-Thornton-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Bobby Conte Thornton, a winner of the first Bay Area Cabaret Teen Idol Contest in 2011, made a huge impression at a tribute show to Marvin Hamlisch in 2013. Now a seasoned 22, Thornton made his official Bay Area Cabaret debut before a packed house at San Francisco’s fabled Venetian Room and stamped his ticket to future successes.

With Broadway’s Kevin Stites as musical director, Thornton breezed through a selection of songs reflecting his introduction to life, love and the refreshing hope and optimism of the young. Opening with Oscar Levant/Edward Heyman’s “Blame It on My Youth”/”I Could Be in Love with Someone Like You” (Jason Robert Brown), one is instantly struck by Thornton’s beautiful tenor—strong and expressive, with amazing control and phrasing that belies his age.
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A natural actor, Thornton is immensely comfortable onstage and is free to be both goofy and charming at the same time. His take on William Finn’s “I’m Not That Smart” from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (with special lyrics combining personal anecdotes) and a gender-bending comic take on “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” from Grease presage a certain Broadway performer. It doesn’t hurt that Thornton is over six feet tall with stunning good looks.
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Two songs by Edges: A Song Cycle songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“Along the Way” and “Part of a Painting”) explore coming-of-age and self-expression. Sting’s “Practical Arrangement” (cut from The Last Ship) and Peter Allen/Carole Bayer Sager’s bittersweet “I’d Rather Leave While I’m in Love” once again show a performer wise beyond his years. And what would this rising star be without throwing in a little Broadway royalty? Stephen Sondheim’s song of desire to see the world and all its experiences, “Take Me to the World,” is a perfect encore for Thornton. Watching him perform with all his optimism, hope and endless possibility makes everyone feel reborn. Bravo, and thanks.

Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.