Saturday, November 14, 2009

CABARET review - Sammy Williams

(photo by Stan Mazin)

Sammy Williams made his theatrical cabaret debut at The Gardenia Friday and Saturday, November 13 and 14 with musical director Ron Snyder at the piano and under director Tom Pardoe's skilled hand. Williams is no slouch, having won a Tony Award for 1975's phenomenon A Chorus Line. His was a milestone performance as Paul, a drag artist who had to deal with the shame it brought to his parents and family. It was a dramatic and scintillatingly sympathetic portrayal which will live in our memories forever. Now at age 61, Williams embarks on yet another high point, the beginning of his night club career. As a friend truthfully pointed out, "it's not just the voice, but the whole package!" Williams is a real first class showman. He's a good singer, a superb dancer, and possessing an electric personality that knows its way around an amusing story or two.
In his first Broadway show The Happy Time, Williams had the great pleasure to work with Roubert Goulet, who, in those days, according to our storyteller, had quite a delectable set of buns. And in one musical number with his back to the audience, Goulet flexed his butt quite frequently, and because he was wearing a very tight pair of pants, the flexes were deliciously apparent. On the sidelines Williams giggled so hard, he claimed it was amazing that he was not fired off the show.
Highlights of the one-hour set included: Goulet's number "I Don't Remember You" from Kander and Ebb's Happy Time, the serious and tender part of Paul's monologue from Chorus Line, climaxed by a gorgeous "Someone Remember Me" by Bill Dyer, "I Can Do That", sung originally in Line by Wayne Cilento, a tribute to New York "Carry Me Back to Old Manhattan", a loving salute to his mom with "I've Got a Crush on You", 2 songs from Too Old for the Chorus (done 10 years ago at the Celebration Theatre): "When 50 Wore a Tux" and the plaintively beautiful "Dog Passages" and his encore by Karen Carpenter "Look to Your Dreams". During the evening Williams changed jackets, wore a hat and silken white scarf, and then - the piece de resistance -donned a pair of red slinky high heels to interpret Albin's "A Little More Mascara" from La Cage Aux Folles - this, undoubtedly his finest hour.
Williams is a truly engaging performer, and hopefully, this little gem of a show will carry him through at least another couple of performing decades. Watch for him at a theatre or cabaret near you!


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