Jarrod Spector: A Little Help from My Friends

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Jarrod Spector

A Little Help from My Friends

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, June 25, 2015

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Jarrod-Spector-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212Jarrod Spector is flying high right now. Two major starring roles on Broadway (Jersey Boys and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) and a Tony nomination (Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Beautiful) has a way of doing that. Spector, who played Frankie Valli over 1,500 times, was perfectly cast—both singers possessing the same high tenor with falsetto.
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In this show, meant to provide a background perspective for this particular singing style, the “friends” are the vocalists who paved the way for Spector and other modern performers. This outing also helped qualm Spector’s fear of the dreaded typecasting nightmare by allowing him to come to terms with his voice through understanding its history.

Falsetto aside, Spector is a tenor in the high range, often singing his mentors’ songs in a key higher than the originals. Bruno Mars’s “When I Was Your Man” (Mars/Philip Lawrence/Ari Levine/Andrew Wyatt), Michael Jackson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You” (Smokey Robinson), and Freddie Mercury’s “Somebody to Love” were homages to similarly-ranged tenors.
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Throw in a little Meatloaf, Bono, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Paul McCartney, and you’re talking the heavy hitters of contemporary vocalists. Working backwards, Spector honored The Bee Gees, Little Richard and, of course, The Four Seasons.

A nice jazzy version of “Unchained Melody” remembered Little Jimmy Scott, famous for his unusually high contralto, and a tip of the hat to Jiminy Cricket’s (Cliff Edwards) iconic version of “When You Wish Upon a Star” (Leigh Harline/Ned Washington) illustrated the lengthy history of the sound Spector calls his own. With Musical Director Adam Ben-David, three backup singers and a rocking band, Spector has the vocal chops for the material which he infuses with a touch more testosterone and energy than the originals.

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.