Desmond Child

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Desmond Child

The Appel Room, NYC, February 16, 2019

Reviewed by Marilyn Lester for Cabaret Scenes

Desmond Child
Photo: Steven Pisano

He’s not only a prolific and gifted singer-songwriter, the extremely personable Desmond Child is a super showman too. His dramatic entrance against the exquisite view from The Appel Room, with subdued lighting, perfectly balanced sound, and Child in a designer hoodie, was as haunting as it was thrilling. Already, it was apparent he’s the real deal, a regular guy you’d love to hang with. The opener was “Lady Liberty,” written for Barbra Streisand, only one legend among many that he’s written for.

Child is a hit-maker, with three decades of chart-toppers behind him.

These included a Ricky Martin medley, Kiss’ “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” and Cher’s “We All Sleep Alone.” Child was joined by special guest, Lena Hall, who in hard-rocker mode sang “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and, in musical-theater mode, “Where Do I Go from You,” from a Broadway-bound musical Child has been working on.

Child was recently presented with an ASCAP Founders Award.

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He’s a member of the ASCAP board and a strong advocate for keeping American music alive, relevant, and played in live performance. As the producers of the American Songbook series know, Child’s music is already inextricably part of the new Songbook. Strip the music of its orchestration and arrangements, turn a number into a ballad for solo piano, and substance emerges.

Numbers like “Angel,” “Weird,” “How Can We Be Lovers If We Can’t Be Friends,” and an entirely new composition, “Truth Hurts,” meet the test.

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As Child moved from center stage to piano and back again, with song, back stories, and anecdotes in this well-paced and smartly directed show, he received ample support from a wealth of backup talent. Crackerjack music director Bette Sussman played keyboard and piano, and contributed vocals. Tabitha Fair also sang backup and spotlight solos, as did guitarist Justin Benlolo. Musicians included bassist Richard Hammond, keyboard master Alec Shantzis, and drummer Frank Vilardi, all playing Clay Perry’s arrangements.

Marilyn Lester

Marilyn Lester left journalism and commercial writing behind nearly two decades ago to write plays. That branch in the road led to screenwriting, script-doctoring, dramaturgy and producing for the stage. Marilyn has also co-authored, as well as edited, books. It seemed the only world of words she hadn’t conquered was criticism, an opportunity that presented itself via Theater Pizzazz. Marilyn has since sought to widen her scope in this form of writing she especially relishes. Marilyn is a member of the Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild, Women in the Arts and Media and The League of Professional Theater Women.