Cheyenne Jackson

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Cheyenne Jackson

The Town Hall, NYC, June 12, 2015

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes

Photo: Maryann Lopinto
Photo: Maryann Lopinto

This show was Cheyenne Jackson’s last concert appearance before moving to L.A. to join the cast of a TV show. Throughout, he spoke at length about his recent problems, his new husband, Jason, and about his sobriety—all admirable—but dwelling on them put a bit of a damper on the show. His vocal powers, however, were in full force in a program cherry picked from recent tours.

His opening number, “Stand by Me” (King/Leiber/Stoller) seemed like a plea to his audience for their understanding. “A Foggy Day (in London Town)” (the Gershwins) displayed a jazzy playfulness with rhythms while, on the other hand, “Bésame Mucho” (Consuelo Velázquez) might have been more passionate.

Jackson spoke a bit about his culturally deprived childhood that eventually led him to New York City where he was on Broadway within three weeks! From All Shook Up, his Elvis Presley musical, he sang “Follow that Dream” (Fred Wise/Ben Weisman), “(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear” (Kal Mann/Bernie Lowe) and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (Hugo Peretti/Luigi Creatore/George David Weiss), putting a lot of body English in his interpretations. His “Old Devil Moon” (Lane/Harburg) from Finian’s Rainbow was leading-man perfect. From Once there was “Falling Slowly” (Glen Hansard/Markéta Irglová), turning it into a lilting lullaby. His interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s delightful “A Case of You” was witty and sweet, a love song to his husband who was in the audience.

As an encore he chose Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” ignoring its ominous rumblings of social revolution.

He made it, rather, a personal statement of what is happening in his own life. In any case, his singing was intensely hypnotic, ending the concert on a quiet note.

Laura Benanti, billed as a guest artist, sang, without benefit of amplification, just one number, “A Quiet Thing” (Kander & Ebb). It was lovely, but too little of a good thing.

His small band was led by a very young Willy Beaman, who did most of the arrangements, conducting Vancil Cooper on drums and Michael O’Brien on bass.

Joel Benjamin

A native New Yorker, Joel was always fascinated by musical theater. Luckily, he was able to be a part of seven Broadway musicals before the age of 14, quitting to pursue a pre-med degree, which led no where except back to performing in the guise of directing a touring ballet troupe. Always interested in writing, he wrote a short play in high school that was actually performed, leading to a hiatus of nearly 40 years before he returned to writing as a reviewer. Writing for Cabaret Scenes has kept him in touch with world filled with brilliance.