Joshua Lance Dixon: Pack of One

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Joshua Lance Dixon

Pack of One

Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, West Hollywood, CA, April 29, 2017

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes

Joshua Lance Dixon

Joshua Lance Dixon sings with an intense focus and passion, yet there’s an innate sweetness in his vocals — and those vocals are very, very solid. Watch his eyes while he sings, and you’ll see how much he believes the emotions of the song.

Dixon sticks very close to the basic melody lines of each song — allowing audiences to hear them as they were written — but he plays with tempos a bit.

In his West Coast debut — a show about the infamous Rat Pack — his approach worked particularly well on two standards usually sung at a much faster speed, but performed here as ballads, which enabled him to dig deeper into the emotional core of each: “Too Close for Comfort” (Jerry Bock/Larry Holofcener/George David Weiss) and “That Old Black Magic” (Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen), both sung in smooth, beautiful versions  that allowed him to weave his own particular magic.

He was also superb in a sweet, nicely centered version of “Mr. Bojangles” (Jerry Jeff Walker) that gave him a chance to exercise his acting chops by putting the song across in a self-reflective manner. And there was a similar sweetness in a simple, intimate version of “Everybody Loves Somebody” (Irving Taylor/Ken Lane).

Dixon was also terrific in a series of mashups — arranged by Steven Ray Watkins — that had him alternating verses and lyric lines on  “Luck Be a Lady” (Frank Loesser) with “Who’s Got the Action?” (George Duning/Jack Brooks);  “What Kind of Fool Am I?” with “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)” (both by Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse); and “Come Fly with Me” (Sammy Cahn/Jimmy Van Heusen) with “Fly Me to the Moon” (Bart Howard), in which he displayed utter joy singing about love.

He brought Musical Director Ron Snyder into the act beyond piano accompaniment on “Me and My Shadow” (Billy Rose/Al Jolson/Dave Dreyer), with Snyder showing off his sweet pipes on melody while Dixon sang harmony, then switching off with a counter melody written in 1962 by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen — a lovely, surprising moment in a lovely show.

As he delivered his thank-yous at the end of the evening, Dixon got choked up about doing his first show in Los Angeles, urging the audience to “pack all you can into one lifetime and learn from it all.

”  He said he planned to donate part of the proceeds from the evening to The Actors Fund, which he said helped him years ago when he needed money for food.

Elliot Zwiebach

Elliot Zwiebach loves the music of The Great American Songbook and classic Broadway, with a special affinity for Rodgers and Hammerstein. He's been a professional writer for 45 years and a cabaret reviewer for five. Based in Los Angeles, Zwiebach has been exposed to some of the most talented performers in cabaret—the famous and the not-so-famous—and enjoys it all. Reviewing cabaret has even pushed him into doing some singing of his own — a very fun and liberating experience that gives him a connection with the performers he reviews.