Review: Scott Alan Cabaret debut offers mixed results

Posted by admin on April 7, 2013

By Tom Alvarez, Indianapolis Performing Arts Examiner
April 7, 2013

There is no question that Scott Alan is one of the most excitingly original contemporary composers/lyricists around. Proof of his talent for songwriting was clearly evident Friday, April 5, the first of his two-day run of “Scott Alan and Caissie Levy: The Scott Alan Songbook” at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club.

Alan has recorded four albums, on which many of Broadway’s and the West End’s most renowned singers are included. He has also presented his music in sold-out concerts all over the U.S. and throughout the world.
View slideshow: “Scott Alan and Caissie Levy: The Scott Alan Songbook”

Caissie Levy, a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, made her mark performing on Broadway in such shows as “Rent,” “Hairspray,” “Wicked” and “Hair.” Her most recent Broadway achievement was playing Molly Jensen in “Ghost: The Musical” (2012) that was based on the 1990 film of the same title.

Alan and Levy (with Alan on the piano) sang a set list which included not only original tunes from his extensive songbook, but also several from “Home,” a musical he has been working on for 10 years and which he eventually hopes will land on Broadway.

Alan’s emotion-drenched songs, which often deal with love and loss, reflect someone who wears his heart on his sleeve and uses experiences from his own life to openly express himself through his music. Alan, who himself is gay, opened with “Nothing More,” a song about a gay man who yearns to have a family in order to experience all the joy it brings.

Possessing an appealing baritone voice, Alan also sang “Now,” which expresses the raw pain of breakup, and “It’s Good to See You Again,” a song written two years later, after healing has occurred, about the same failed relationship.

“Always,” dedicated to Kyle, someone he once loved and who has since died, caused Alan to weep as he sang lyrics such as, “Hold on to / steal you from the hardest day / Don’t be afraid / You have me here to guide your way / Through storms I will be here / I will not disappear / Always by your side.”

Levy, a soprano with an extraordinary range and formidable voice trained to reach the top balconies of theaters and concert halls, demonstrated her ability to easily adapt to the intimate confines of a smaller space, such as the Cabaret, as she interpreted Alan’s music with heartfelt beauty, grace and aplomb.

“Never Neverland (Fly Away),” which speaks to Alan’s love of fairy tales; “Peter Pan,” in particular; “Say Goodbye”; “Kiss the Air”; and “Watch Me Soar” were some of Alan’s most popular songs performed by Levy.

Levy’s last song was “Home,” in which she delivered Alan’s lyrics — such as “Never feel alone, for I’ll always be with you / A home is where the heart is meant to be / You always have a home inside of me” — with a blazing passion he surely intended when he wrote them.

Levy is just one of many of Broadway’s star performers who love Alan’s work enough to record it and perform it live, so it left this writer to question why she had not memorized his songs, rather than referring to sheet music which was contained in a book placed on a stand in front of her. Levy’s choice seemed to diminish an otherwise superb performance.

In contrast to Alan’s top-notch performance as a singer and pianist — and the sheer loveliness and inspirational quality of the music itself — was, as it turned out, the controversial banter that he exchanged with the audience between songs.

Alan’s unfiltered comments were lengthy and sometimes rambling, not to mention filled with expletives, as he told back stories about each song, shared anecdotes about his background and career, and dished about encounters with various show business personalities.

Though Alan’s playfully sarcastic, often politically-tinged humor seemed to delight his young fans present — at one point he even invited some them, who happened to be music students, on stage to sing one of his songs with him — older individuals present were not as receptive, judging from the departure of several parties at intermission and others later on as the evening and the offending jokes wore on.

In the end, the juxtaposition of Alan’s beauteous, vulnerable music with his hard-edged, no-holds-barred humor made for an evening that was, at its best, just plain odd — and at its worst, simply distracting.

For tickets and information about upcoming 2012-2013 season Cabaret at the Columbia performances, call (317) 275-1169 or visit www.thecabaret.org.

Click here for the full review.

 

"One of Indianapolis' most fashionable downtown nightspots..."

Tom Alvarez, Examiner.com

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