If ever there was a voice that could be can be characterized as “velvety,” it is that of Aaron Lazar. Making his first appearance in “Look For Me in the Songs” at The Cabaret at the Columbia Club, the Broadway, television and film star performed shows on both Friday and Saturday. I attended the Friday, 7:30 p.m. show along with a full house of patrons.
The fact that Lazar appeared with Sting in “The Last Ship,” and performed in “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Oklahoma!,” “The Light in the Piazza,” ” Les Misérables,” “A Tale of Two Cities,” “A Little Night Music,”and “Mamma Mia!,” is a strong indication of the caliber of vocal talent he possesses. But that is not all. During her introduction of Lazar, Cabaret artistic director and CEO Shannon Forsell jokingly revealed that Lazar had the looks to match when she showed the audience a photo of the singer, bare chested, and graced with six pack abs. And once the handsome, affable performer took to the stage, it became abundantly clear that Lazar also had a significant likability factor, making him the total package as an entertainer.
And on top of all his other qualities, Lazar also demonstrated his talent as a comedic story teller, sprinkling his act with amusing jokes and anecdotes about growing up Jewish; giving up medical school to pursue a career in the theater; his first NYC, roach infested, fifth floor, walk-up apartment; his first professional job working in a musical titled “Fried Leather Shoes,” working with Elaine Stritch and Angela Lansbury; and many others.
As far as his show itself, Lazar’s set list consisted of mainly Broadway tunes but there were surprises as well, such as a medley of Motown songs which included “You’re All That I Need to Bet By,” and “You’ll Never Find a Love Like Mine.” Lazar easily demonstrated that he had a wide enough range to support a falsetto voice that rivaled that of Smokey Robinson, when he sang “Ooh Baby Baby,” the tune that legendary singer made a hit. Lazar introduced the medley with a hilarious story about how he discovered his parent could sing when they entered a Karaoke contest and sang those very songs. Realizing he had singing talent in his blood, he said that he used it as leverage to convince his mom and dad why they should let him give up becoming a doctor to enter show business.
Other songs performed by versatile showman Lazar included “Something Comin'” from “West Side Story,” “Pretty Women” from “Sweeney Todd,” and “All I Ask of You” and “Music of the Night” from “Phantom of the Opera.” Paying tribute to Stephen Sondheim, his major influence, Lazar also sang “Take Me To the World” from “Evening Primrose.”
Lazar referenced his own personal experience regarding his marriage to a non-Jewish woman (his wife Leanne) when he sang “Shiksa Goddess” from Jason Robert Brown’s “The Last Five Years.” “Love to Me,” from “Light in the Piazza,” a show in which he played Frabizio, was also featured. It is a song Lazar said he sang to his bride on their wedding day.
Calling it a “Money Medley,” Lazar also performed an unlikely yet innovative arrangement of songs that included “Great Big Stuff, ” from “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” “If I Were a Rich Man” from “Fiddler on the Roof” and “96 Thousand” from red-hot Lin-Manuel Miranda’s (creator of “Hamilton”) “In the Heights.”
Though he now lives in L.A., Lazar still carries fond memories of his former NYC which he recalled when when he lovingly crooned “New York State of Mind.”
“Look for Me in the Songs,” by Craig Carnelia, which spoke to his love for his chosen profession, was Lazar’s closing number. His was a show that personifies the Cabaret brand. Urbane, sophisticated, world-class entertainment. One simply could not ask for more.
For tickets and information about the remainder of the 2016 Cabaret at the Columbia Club Summer/Fall season visit thecabaret.org or call (317) 275-1169.