Thursday, June 10, 2010

CABARET review - Matt Zarley

Matt Zarley
Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's
Saturday, June 12
Steven Cahill - piano, musical director/Jonny Morrow - bass/Nick Perez - guitar/Matt Lucich - drums

Truly great pop singers are a rarity these days, singers of the calibre of Elton John, Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder - all idols of Matt Zarley. No wonder Zarley turned out so good! He has an easy-going, warm style onstage that pulls you in and holds you tight. Like his grandma's idol Elvis, he becomes our "Teddy Bear" possessing on the inside such a heartfelt and winning spirit!
Dedication was Zarley's description of his career journey over the last 20+ years. He first got stagestruck via listening to Dreamgirls as a boy and eventually in his later teen years starred on Broadway in a plethora of shows, starting with A Chorus Line. Due to becoming the first openly gay Hot Bachelor in People Magazine in 2002 (50 Hottest Bachelors), he is now in the forefront as a role model for young gay men and the gay community at large. In the past several years Zarley has devoted more of his time to songwriting, mainly with his fine musical director Steve Cahill. It seems with this show that he is wisely attempting to create a quieter, more sophisticated image than the wild sexy boytoy of his younger days.
Highlights of Dedication included: a dazzling rendition of Elton's "Daniel", Elvis' "Always On My Mind", in tribute to his grandmother, an exciting Broadway medley that emcompassed all of Zarley's roles: "What I Did For Love" from Chorus Line, "My Coat of Many Colors" from Joseph..., "Pinball Wizard" from The Who's Tommy, "Memory" from Cats, "Spider Woman" from Kiss ..., and "All That Jazz" from Chicago.
The remainder of the 70-minute set consisted of Zarley's own beautifully romantic compositions: a thankful "You're Always There", written as a Christmas present to his parents, the gorgeous "Because of You", co-written with Cahill, "Where Would I Be", "Had I Known", accompanied by a background music video showing the positive loving side of gay relationships, and his encore, the riveting title song from his latest CD "Here I Am", which suggests to Zarley "you're where you're supposed to be". "Here I Am" was co-written by Tom Kitt, multi award-winning composer of Broadway's brilliant Next to Normal, set to play the Ahmanson next season.
Zarley's musical journey was at once intimately personal and genuinely entertaining. His intense dedication, which resonates in every note he sings, puts him on top as a rich pop vocalist - where, indeed, he's most definitely supposed to be.

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