Santino Fontana

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Santino Fontana

Birdland, NYC, December 17, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

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Santino Fontana rocked into Birdland with a nonchalant attitude that reflected confidence in his abilities. While not irreverent, his through-line between songs was that he had just gone out for Japanese barbecue and was worried about cross contamination and an allergic response. While it wasn’t the strongest show arc by any stretch of the imagination, he did often provide a background for his musical choices.

Generally, these were selections from his career in musical theater, including his first audition song. When it came to the singing, Fontana was strong, fulfilling our expectations.

From Fontana’s solo portion of the act, there were two songs in particular that draw my praise.

First, “The Moon Was Yellow” (Fred Ahlert/Edgar Leslie), captured the romantic imagination as he delicately phrased, “Will it be my luck to win you.” Unfortunately, there weren’t many other Sinatra-like comparisons other than song choices. His niche was much more theatrical than crooner-like, exemplified by my favorite solo of the evening, “It Only Takes a Moment” (Jerry Herman) from Hello, Dolly!, in which he recently starred.

The show picked up pace and pizazz when Fontana’s wife, Jessica Fontana, joined him on stage. They sang a couple of duets and Fontana left the stage so she could have a solo moment. Their best duet was most definitely “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” (Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne). They worked in near perfect synchronicity through the various parts of the song, which showed the palpable chemistry they had together on and off the stage. It seemed as though he really came alive as soon as his wife hit the stage.

Santino Fontana met the expectations for a Broadway singer at Birdland. Perhaps he could have been less revealing about his pre-show dinner plans, but his songs were good and he satisfied an exceptionally large crowd.

When he turns up at Birdland again, I’d be likely to check out his show.

Fontana’s band of Steven Feifke on the piano, Charlie Rosen on bass, and Bryan Carter on drums held up well alongside the vocalist’s soaring notes and Broadway-sized voice.

Pianis, Feifke was particularly good.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see