Backstage “BEST”

by Joe Regan, Jr.

Craig Pomranz has a long history in cabaret and supper clubs and has recently been playing to sold-out houses in Los Angeles at the Gardenia. Some months ago he did a show at the Metropolitan Room, and recently returned for a run which ends this Wednesday, August 6. It’s an entirely new show (even from his recent Gardenia gig), and I have to tell you I saw Craig’s show Wednesday, July 30 and an audience of various civilians (many of whom never had seen him before) stood up and cheered. I haven’t seen spontaneous standing ovations like this at the Metropolitan Room except for Julie Wilson and Marilyn Maye. The only cabaret celebrities I spotted in the capacity crowd were Richard Skipper and Francesca Blumenthal.

There’s a “summer” theme, although he strayed from that from time to time. He had a lot of fun interacting with his audience. His four-octave voice was in great shape, and he sang so beautifully on songs like “The Summer Knows” (the Bergmans/Legrand), “Night Song” from Golden Boy (Adams/Strouse), sung as a tribute to one of his idols, Sammy Davis Jr., John Meyer’s “After the Holidays”, “Someone to Light Up My Life)”(Jobim/Lees), a “Summertime”/”Lazy Afternoon” blend, “Hot in Here” by Amanda McBroom, “Heat Wave”, and the Styne/Comden & Green songs “Fireworks” and “The Party’s Over”.

Pomranz also sang some rarities: “Don’t Talk, Just Sing” (Cahn-Van Heusen) which was done playfully with his music director, the excellent Stephen Bocchino, “Heigh Ho, the Gang’s All Here” (Burton Lane-Harold Adamson), and the beautiful and tender “Morning Glow” from Pippin (Stephen Schwartz), which he started quietly, built into his full vocal high in the middle, and then finished softly again. Several in the crowd stood up at this point; they were so touched by this ballad. He had a lot of fun with “Makin’ Whoopee” (Donaldson-Kahn) and Murray Grand’s “Love at an Auction”, and he diverted from the summer theme for “Winter Wonderland” and “I Love Being Here with You” (Peggy Lee-William Schluger). He selected his big sound and his soft sound very skillfully. He finished with “You Ought To Be in Pictures,” which he sang very effectively as a ballad. After the show he sold many copies of his CD, My Heart Don’t Skip a Beat.

Craig has one more show in New York: this Wednesday, August 6 at 7:30 p.m. before going off to St. Petersburg and London to sing, before returning at the end of September to the Gardenia in Los Angeles. I urge all New York music lovers to try and see this extraordinary show.