Richard Holbrook transported his audience to joyous simpler time of clever lyrics and bouncy tunes courtesy of Richard Rodgers. Mr. Holbrook’s tribute to Richard Rodgers (Richard Holbrook Sings Rodgers with a Lot of Heart) was nothing short of marvelous.
The METROPOLITAN Room – as part of its closing cerebration (fear not… they are returning in a bigger and better space) presented Mr. Holbrook for a limited engagement.
Visually he was the personification of class, in a perfect tuxedo, Holbrooke glided across the stage making everyone feel like he was singing just to them. His well-written and moving patter told us the story of the great Richard Rodgers and his journeys with Oscar Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, going it alone, and as the title implies, a major piece with lyricist Lorenz Hart.
Peppering each narrative with a bit of trivia, a trace of humor, and total joy at sharing the bygone days of Broadway and the movie musical, Mr. Holbrooke gave us a history lesson that filled the audience with joy and brought tears to our eyes as he told the story of Lorenz Hart congratulating Rodgers on Oklahoma and the strains of Edelweiss that were heard as he told of Oscar Hammerstein’s passing.
Now to his voice.
Richard Holbrook is a brilliant translator of classic showtunes, giving them a fresh sound and he, himself, is a true exemplification of what has made the art of cabaret endure. One minute, an angelic tenor; presenting to his audience a moving ballad with total commitment and soul; and then donning a straw hat and making us smile with a witty charm song where every lyric was as clear as glass.
His choice of materials was also marvelous. Giving us just enough memorable favorites to allow us to float on musical memories and then hit us with a rare piece from a rarerr show allowing us to nod in enlightenment. Whether it was a favorite from Pal Joey or Babes in Arms or a rarity from Jumbo or Hallelujah, I’m a Bum; whether the piece was from On Your Toes of the 1930s or a musical moment from No Strings, a daring piece from 1962, Richard Holbrook took us on a musical ride that was simply magical.
Accompanying him was the exquisite Tom Nelson Trio – Tom Nelson on piano; Tom Kirchmer on bass; and Peter Grant on drums. Tom Nelson also served as musical director with veteran Broadway and cabaret performer Richard Barclay as director.
It’s a tough world we live in. Life outside of the cabaret can often be riddled with obstacles, but sitting in the lovely Metropolitan Room and listening to the talented Richard Holbrook, the world was a technicolor and tuneful … and had a happy ending.