Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cabaret Review - Life with Adam Simmons

Adam Simmons in Concert
Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's
Sunday, November 9

Hardly your run of the mill young talent, energetic and resourceful Adam Simmons worked diligently to come up with an unusual concept for his Los Angeles cabaret debut at Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's Sunday, November 9. The theme was life and Adam guided his adoring audience from birth to the afterlife via song and quite an extraordinary montage of video clips (that he controlled himself onstage by pushing buttons): some animated, some from film and TV shows and celebrities and some of himself and his family during the growth years - and now. Interesting? - to a point. When the audience starts to watch the video screen instead of the performer - which was getting to be the case 75% of the time, the technology takes control and the singer becomes merely a a prop in the act, and not the act itself. There was a beautiful clear tenor voice belting out a song, but it was the pratfalls of The Simpsons or cute little Opie (Ronnie Howard) from The Andy Griffith Show getting more of the oohs and ahhs and chuckles. Simmons faded into the background. I would have preferred him to take center stage, microphone in hand and sing, accompanied by a pianist and - sans so much technology. Some of it was fun to watch, but there was just too damn much of it.
That said, I think the world of Adam Simmons and am a huge fan of his theatrical gifts which include his powerful voice. Proving his range, Simmons sang upbeat fanciful tunes like "Facts of Life", "9 to 5" "Help!" and then more vocally challenging ones such as "Nessun Dorma" and "Unbreak My Heart". Also effective was Mike and the Mechanics' "In the Living Years" with familiar glimpses of families from the Beaver Cleavers to Robert Young's TV clan to the Simmons. But it was the moving "Through the Years" that was his best moment, during which the screen was blank - for the first time during the 1 hour set.
Although it's a dynamic number, Simmons is a bit too young to have "My Way" as a finale. The singer hopefully has many great formative years ahead of him and has no regrets careerwise. His star is on the rise.
Adam, you are a terrifically talented singer/actor. You are funny and do not need a gimmick to be appreciated. The next time you take the cabaret stage, leave the David Merrick/PT Barnum dreams aside, forget the excess - and just sing your heart out, which you do incredibly well! The love you speak of comes cascading back to you. You don't need any accoutrements.


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