Saturday, April 05, 2008

Euan Morton: Here And Now (The SOB Review)

Euan Morton: Here And Now (The SOB Review) - The Oak Room, The Algonquin Hotel, New York, NY

**** (out of ****)

Nearly six long years after first being introduced to the incredible musical instrument known as Euan Morton, I finally had an opportunity to hear one of the stage's single, most beautiful male singing voices live yet again.

Back in the summer of 2002, I was fortunate to take in the original London production of Taboo. Having been an early fan of 80s pop band Culture Club, I was drawn to the show with a promise of seeing Boy George O'Dowd himself perform as performance artist Leigh Bowery alongside his very own doppelgänger -- a younger version of himself, portrayed by a then-unknown Scottish double-threat named Euan Morton.

While I went in for Boy George, I came out a fan of the gifted young singer/actor, not only because he effectively became his character, but especially because of that voice, that sweetly angelic voice. He simply blew me away.

Thanks in part to all the negative publicity over the ill-fated Broadway mounting of Taboo, I opted to count my blessings for having seen the much better received (and by most accounts, better period) production in the West End and thus skipped the stateside version. The downside to that decision was that with the exception of Morton's 2004 benefit concert appearance in Hair, there have been absolutely no other opportunities to see this amazing talent sing again on Broadway.

It was a bit of a consolation that Euan Morton eventually hit the Main Stem boards again in last fall's terrific production of Cyrano de Bergerac in which he took on the dual roles of Lignière and Théophraste Renaudot. While Morton further burnished his solid acting credentials, there was no chance of hearing his dulcet tones.

Thankfully, the fine folks at The Algonquin Hotel have been savvy enough to bring him into their intimate Oak Room Cabaret for a brief weekend stint during the month of March. It gave smart New Yorkers (and others) a first hand look at and listen to how charming and delightful this golden throated tenor truly is. In his Oak Room appearance, he effortlessly belted out tune after tune, reaching every note with incredible ease and precision.

And mind you, it wasn't just a rehash of showtunes. No, Morton offered an eclectic mix that flowed perfectly, whether he was breathing new life into gorgeous old standards like George Gershwin's classic "Someone To Watch Over Me" or offering his own fresh interpretations on more contemporary tunes like Roy Orbison's giddily romantic "You Got It," and Paul Simon's haunting "American Tune" -- a song that has long since been among my all-time personal favorites.

Speaking of haunting, it seemed as though the ghost of Dorothy Parker herself was trying to interfere with Morton's act as the piano reverberated strangely. Without losing his composure, Morton displayed a healthy dose self-effacing humor, along with friendly and witty repartee with his audience. It's no wonder he is such a consummate performer. It's also no small wonder big names like Alan Cumming and Raúl Esparza showed up the same night I was there to applaud his work.

And I was certainly applauding as well, not to mention taking heart that Euan Morton is excited about participating in a workshop for what could very well be one of his next stage musicals -- a bio in which he portrays the legendary Charlie Chaplin. So it was apropos that one of the final tunes he performed was a heartwrenching rendition of Chaplin's "Smile."

Despite the tears in my eyes, it sure brought a huge smile to my face.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 05 April, 2008, Blogger Alicia said...

I hope that the Chaplin project gets some legs - it sounds very interesting. Outside of what I saw in Show Business, I've not seen Euan Morton perform. I didn't see Taboo and he was out when we saw Cyrano. Hopefully the fates will steer him back to a role on B'way (or Off) that will exploit both his acting and vocal skills. I'm keeping my eye out...

And, yes, we DO need to sit at the same end of the table next time. And if we don't, I might throw a hissy fit. Or better yet, we could just find a spot that has a round table.

Oh, speaking of round tables, I just about fell off my chair when I saw the Dorothy Parker reference in this post. Seriously. I was thinking the other day about how Sunday's brunch wasn't that different from the Algonquin Round Table. Kind of like the Algonquin for the new millenium: a bunch of wonky nerds with a hell of a lot of intellect and insight... What shall we go down in history as, hmmm? SOB and the McIndoe Mavens? Steve Loucks and the Vicious Circle? :)

At 05 April, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

I had a wonderful time - it was such an elegant, historic setting, and Euan Morton, in addition to having a lovely voice, is a sweet, funny, charming man. I'd love to see him in a musical. And being able to look across at Alan Cumming, wow! That was a treat. I've seen him in "The Anniversary Party" and one of the X-Men movies, and he's great. Plus, being in a place like the Algonquin, with so much literary history attached to it, I really felt like a member of the smart set!

At 05 April, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Euan Morton gave one of the best intimate cabaret performances I've ever seen. And he would be perfect as Charlie Chaplin! - let's hope that Chaplin bio-musical gets some legs!


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