Kyle Dean Massey

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Kyle Dean Massey

Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, October 2, 2015

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Kyle-Dean-Massey-Cabaret-Scenes-Mqgazine_212The first song of your first cabaret show—what’ll it be? For KD Massey, “I’m Alive,” from his starring role as Gabe in Broadway’s Next to Normal, was a prophetic choice. The rousing anthem is a declaration of one’s presence and vitality, and Kyle Dean Massey is very much “so alive.

” The young theater geek from Arkansas who couldn’t get accepted to musical theater programs has finally thumbed his nose at rejection big time with starring roles in Wicked, Next to Normal, Xanadu, Altar Boyz, Pippin, and TV’s country hit Nashville.

Aided by longtime friend Heather Luellen on piano, KD’s debut on the small stage featured songs he knows best – show tunes that helped shape his career. A song from his high school production of Shenandoah, “The Only Home I Know” (Peter Udell/Gary Geld) and “On My Own” from Les Misérables are heartfelt and honestly sung in his sweet tenor. Massey loves a good story and segues each song with autobiographical anecdotes like a seasoned pro. On his constant casting rejection for Hairspray for not being sexy enough, KD launches into “It Takes Two”(Marc Shaiman/Scott Wittman) with a comic Elvis Presley flair.

Three non-show tunes, fortunately, made the set list.

Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, KD sang the poignant “Broken Song” (Cody Johnson/Tony Long/Travis Meadows) from Nashville. The boy from Arkansas can certainly tug at the heartstrings.

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  The beautiful “Flight” by Broadway composer Craig Carnelia is a ballad that shows KD’s strength of conviction to the lyric.

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Closing with the moving rocker “I’m Not Over You” (Gavin DeGraw/Ryan Tedder), the song speaks to vulnerability and pride, and KD knocks it out of the park.

Massey is well accustomed to performing in front of large Broadway audiences and is now seen by millions on the small screen. But small intimate showcases like cabaret are a different animal – you need to connect, capture an audience and hold them in rapt attention.

KD succeeded on every level in this well-crafted, charming show.

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.