Scott Alan

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Scott Alan

Birdland, NYC, February 25, 2019

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Scott Alan
Photo: Kevin Alvey

Scott Alan invited an interesting and talented cast of characters to the stage to perform with him at Birdland. A couple were contest winners, some were Broadway performers, and others were on the fringe. Shining brightest of all the stars to grace the stage was Alan himself; his complicated, dark lyrics speak of the mental troubles often associated with creating the art that he and others love. Lines like “would it help if I told you I was happy even if it’s not the truth” (From “Joke”) or “Here I am wrestling with my identity/Once again, I’m praying to my God for a sign…like please make me stronger” (from “Human”) were the type of direct, unapologetic depictions of the emotions many often sweep out of sight. Alan, to his credit, concentrates on these emotions as well as the minute personal tragedies that continuously ebb at the shorelines of modern society. Whatever is on the horizon for Alan, I’m sure it will be good.

The best to aid Alan in his trip through his songs were Matt Bloyd and David Burtka. Bloyd’s performance of “Blessing” sounded like the type of modern pop-singer one could expect to hear coming out of a grocery store’s loudspeaker. It made sense that Alan would keep referencing his few up-tempo numbers amidst a lineup of mostly ballads; when the lyrics remain so melancholy, it was good to hear something with more light-hearted lyrics. Nevertheless, the songs were characteristically defiant.

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For example, the chorus of the song ends, “All I ask is in time, you’ll give me your blessing.” This theme also permeates “Stay” sung by Burtka. In this, Alan writes to an ailing friend, “Tomorrow’s another day to stay.” Burtka delivered this climactic performance with creativity along and calm reserve.

I’d also like to mention Alex Hairston, Morgan Reilly, Bonnie Milligan, and Marcus Allen.

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Each performed Alan’s songs with depth of character. Of the four, I enjoyed Hairston’s performance the most. She was polished, fluid, and in control, demonstrating her talent and comfort on stage on “Say Goodbye.” That being said, Allen was the one to step a little outside of the box by donning a pair of women’s heels. He also got to perform Alan’s first hit, “I’m a Star,” a song that speaks to desires that need to be heard. It’s fitting that it was sung by a man from Atlanta on his first jaunt to Manhattan. Watch for Alan or any of these other names to be back at Birdland or another venue soon.

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