Jerome Elliott: King of the Song Cue Ball

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Jerome Elliott

King of the Song Cue Ball

Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, Palm Springs, CA, April 12, 2019

Reviewed by Les Michael for Cabaret Scenes

jpg” alt=”” width=”212″ height=”212″ /> Jerome Elliott

Looking stunning in a tuxedo and venue-matching violet shirt, Jerome Elliott took the stage at the Purple Room for his most recent cabaret show, King of the Song Cue Ball, and announced: “Every song is a story, and every story is my song.” From the first bar of music you knew this was going to be fun. An exaggerated rendition of “Theme from Love Story” flowed seamlessly into a comic medley of story songs, thanks to music director/pianist Denis Moreen: “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” “Nature Boy,” “The Story of My Life,” “Theme from The Brady Bunch,” “Solitaire,” and “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd.”

Although there is much debate about the role of autobiography in cabaret, Elliott deftly makes connections between his life experiences and the music that it inspires through his impeccably well-crafted patter. He fast-forwarded to his first real date in the seventh grade where he learned the truth about love-hate relationships (“She Loves Me,” Harnick & Bock). Taking a big leap to San Francisco in the late ’70s (“Where the Boys Are,” Howard Greenfield/Neil Sedaka), he began to explore the city in a drug-induced haze (a haunting cover of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush,” arranged by his longtime musical collaborator Charlie Creasy). A fun romp through the personal ads followed (Sondheim’s “Can That Boy Foxtrot”) leading to first love (a contemplative “The Night You Decided to Stay”, Mark Campbell/Steve Marzullo), and eventually, first betrayal (“Give My Best to the Blonde,” Fred Barton).

Putting himself back on the market led him to a poignant rendering of “Mark’s All-Male Thanksgiving” (William Finn) and a second chance at romance (Sondheim’s “Good Thing Going”). Wanting to make a fresh start, he moved to Palm Springs (“The Windmills of Your Mind,” Michel Legrand/Alan & Marilyn Bergman, in an exquisite arrangement by Moreen). Here, he found a stable and lasting relationship (“It’s About Time,” Shelly Markham/Paul Rolnick). Now, after 17 years in the desert, Elliott is performing steadily and glad he is “Out There”—a powerful reading of the Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken ballad. Rounding out the evening was a tribute to Michael Holmes’ marvelous supper club with a sweet rendition of “It Feels Like Home” (John Bucchino).

It’s not easy to cover five decades in an hour, but Elliott mastered the night with a good mix of comedy and legit material while keeping it real. I for one felt very connected to him and, judging by the standing ovation, the audience did too.

Les Michaels

Les Michaels is a singer, host, and producer known from his Cabaret Open Mic Mondays at Vermont for seven years and Guest Stars Cabaret in the Ten20 at Belage Hotel for three years. He moved to Palm Springs seven years ago and hosts Applause Wednesdays Cabaret Open Mic at Club Threesixty North in Palm Springs and Cabaret on the Green at AJ’s on the Green in Cathedral City. His Sundays in Summer Cabaret Series in the Arthur Newman Theatre at the Joslyn Center in Palm Desert is in its sixth season.