Cameron Mitchell Bell: Southern Bell Raising Hell

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Cameron Mitchell Bell

Southern Bell Raising Hell

The Green Room 42, NYC, November 27, 2023

Review by Bart Greenberg

Cameron Mitchell Bell

When Cameron Mitchell Bell takes the stage, he takes the stage. High energy, enthusiasm, and expansive humor are his trademarks, backed up with a fine, powerful voice. He recalled his childhood singing in the church choir and all the things it had led him to in his show Southern Bell Raising Hell at The Green Room 42. His show was intensely personal. His selections reflected the track of his life, from some classic gospel (“How Great Thou Art”) to the pop divas who helped him to form his personality, such as Mariah Carey (“Hero”) and Celine Dion (“Taking Chances”). Also included were songs from Disney films and Broadway shows that provided his career, such as “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and a medley of “Maybe” and “Tomorrow” (done without a hint of camp).

The scope of his material certainly helped to keep the show varied. Also helpful were two terrific back-up singers, Anne Fraser Thomas and Eric Michael Krop, along with the mix of musical sounds and styles provided by music director/pianist Darnell White, guitarist Oei, and drummer TJ. A few of the Disney songs were sung to tpre-recorded racks to create even more different (i. e. rock) effects. During much of the evening Bell submerged himself in camp, but his final number, a medley from Sondheim’s Into the Woods of “Stay with Me,” “Children Will Listen,” and “No One Is Alone” was delivered with touching sincerity and the interpretative skill of a fine musical-theater performer. By the way, there was no encore; Bell, with an ironic smile, called encores “tacky.”

Where the show slid off was in its staging. Director Bootsie Lefaris didn’t avoid the problem of Bell’s spending far too much time in a chair, often curled into it, hereby putting up a wall between himself and his audience. Compounding the issue was his wardrobe; he seemed to be covered by every bugle bead in Manhattan, which reflected the often overly bright lighting in the room and that caused even more distraction. These problems could easily be corrected in future performances so that Bell’s talent might shine without distraction.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."