Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited
Any doubt that Bernard Dotson is an intriguing multi-talented performer is soon dismissed after seeing his new energy packed show which debuted at the Metropolitan Room and will soon take flight around the country. “I don’t know how to begin/ To let myself let you in” are the opening lyrics heard from an offstage voice and will soon prove to be an ironic and mistermed phrase as the evening wears on and Mr. Dotson shows his ownership of the stage. His presence, poise, voice and honesty provide proof of a first rate entertainer and contribute to his ability to captivate an audience with charm. His journey which brings him to this time and place is revealed throughout and shows evidence of gratitude and humility, coinciding with interest and humor. Mr. Dotson gets up close and personal with his choice of songs and stories but never forces a feeling or emotional connection to the material and sheds any inhibitions to reveal himself to the audience. His vocals are precise, clear, bold and pure, along with lyrics delivered with humor, romance or sentimentality.
The eclectic evening of song is filled with pop standards, Broadway and even an hysterical Disney medley recollecting his performance gig at Disney Tokyo. Mr. Dotson rocks the house with a Barry Manilow staple “It’s a Miracle” and croons “All I Care About Is Love” from “Chicago” (John Kander/Fred Ebb). A highlight of the show is his interpretation of “Mr. Bojangles” (Jerry Jeff Walker) spotlighting inventive phrasing and reassuring the fact that you are watching a Broadway actor hone his craft, which is also all too evident in his rendition of “Fallin.” It is a rare occasion when a cabaret audience witnesses a Broadway actor recreate a song he originated on the stage. When Mr. Dotson belts out “Make Them Hear You” from “Ragtime” (Stephen Flaherty/Lynn Ahrens), you are immediately transported to that important time and place in his career as he takes you there with him. It is one powerful moment that is surely a gift.
The evening is enhanced by the accompanying musicians Skip Ward on Bass, Peter Calo on Guitar, David Silliman on Drums, and Musical Director Tracy Stark on Piano. Marya Grandy and Jeanne Montano support with backup vocals and duets, while Matt Heimer turns in a great rendition of “Lovin Feelin” (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Phil Spector) with Mr. Dotson. Bernard Dotson will return to the Metropolitan Room on Wednesday April 16, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. The reader should consider this a not-to-be-missed event.