Tony Yazbeck

54 Below
New York, NY
Tony Yazbeck has a pleasantly split personality. On one hand, he’s a darkly handsome, well-built man with a robust tenor and remarkable dance chops. On the other, he’s a wide-eyed youngster hankering after the perfection of the golden age of Hollywood musicals, a dark-haired Mickey Rooney. Just when he seems to be turning on the masculine sensuality, up pops the golly-gee adolescent.

Yazbeck loosely based his show on autobiographical vignettes which featured a broken home, a loving mom, an obsession with Fred Astaire, early success on Broadway (in not one, but two productions of Gypsy!) and finding the love of his life the second time around. 

Of course there were songs from stage/movie musicals, starting with a Latin-tinged medley, which included “Let Yourself Go” (Kern/Fields), “No Strings (I'm Fancy Free)” (Berlin) and “Fascinating Rhythm” (the Gershwins), all joined to simple, but effective movements. Two other dancers, Melinda Sullivan and Matthew Crowle, proved Yazbeck’s equals in tapping dexterity when they transformed the tiny 54 Below stage into a surprisingly accommodating dance floor. In “Moses Supposes” (Roger Edens/Comden & Green), the two men caught the off-kilter humor of the song with both their singing and their agile dancing, while Sullivan was the movie-perfect romantic partner in a medley that included “I Won’t Dance” (Kern/Fields) and “Cheek to Cheek” (Berlin).  The three tore up the stage in the final two numbers: “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You” (Russ Morgan/Larry Stock/James Cavanaugh) and “Slap That Bass” (the Gershwins).

The terrific band was led by Jerome Korman with Mark McGowan on trumpet, Tony Lewis on drums and Tom Hubbard on bass.

Joel Benjamin
Cabaret Scenes
August 14, 2014