Tony Yazbeck

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Tony Yazbeck

Samueli Theater, Costa Mesa, CA, March 26,2022

Reviewed by Les Traub

Tony Yazbeck

Tony Yazbeck didn’t stray far from his Broadway roots in his show at Segerstrom Center’s Cabaret series. He opened the show with an easy, slow-paced take on “Let There Be Love” that changed pace with his energetic tap break. He was stylishly dressed in black slacks, a white shirt, a black vest, a black tie, and completing the black and white theme, black tap shoes with white tops. Leaving the cold weather behind in his trip out here from his home in New York, he was grateful for the beautiful day that greeted him on his return to his native California, expressed by his lovely rendition of “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’.”

The structure of his show was basically a trip through his life and career. He related getting his start at age 11 in the Tyne Daly revival of Gypsy, quickly being hired after his audition because he was a talented triple threat: singer, tap dancer, and clarinetist. Revisiting the show 20 years later in the Patti LuPone revival, he was cast as Tulsa. While singing his solo from the show, “All I Need Is the Girl,” he added an impressive tap display to it.

As a singer/tap dancer Yazbeck found the perfect musical director in Jerome Korman, who is the MD of Jacques D’amboise’s National Dance Institute. His rich, artistic arrangements and accompaniment showcased Yazbeck’s pleasant voice and also worked brilliantly as dance accompaniment. While the show was entertaining, it would have benefited from a surprise or two, such as a really original take on some of the songs. Yazbeck and Korman did, however, offer up one clever, challenging bit. The audience was asked to pick a musical style—rock, swing, or Latin—and to choose a letter between A and G. Latin was chosen and the letter ‘B’ picked, unfortunately requiring Korman to improvise music in the key of B natural to which Yazbeck would dance. Each was to have his own story behind the music.

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Yazbeck’s dance did reflect the story, which he later related was about his mother having to constantly reign in his teenage sister’s nightly escapes out of her bedroom window. Amusingly, Korman’s story revolved around concentrating on having to work in the key of B.

Yazbeck got married while he was appearing in the Broadway revival of On the Town and one of the highlights of the show was a moving performance of a particularly meaningful number he did in the show, “Lucky to Be Me.” He finished the show with a powerful take on “This Is Not Over Yet” from Jason Robert Brown’s Parade.

Les Traub

Les Traub has been covering the cabaret scene for over twenty years. He is a co-founder and President of Cabaret West and has produced cabaret shows at the Jazz Bakery, Cinegrill, Gardenia, El Portal Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse and at UCLA. He co-produced and wrote a Sammy Cahn tribute show at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. He is Chairman of the Board of Musical Theatre Guild, where he co- produced Sail Away, High Spirits, Little Mary Sunshine and Street Scene at the Alex Theatre. He has lectured on cabaret in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Connecticut. .