by Elliot Zwiebach
Craig Pomranz makes an audience sigh at the sheer beauty with which he sings. It doesn’t happen just once or twice, as it’s bound to in a show by any decent singer. It happens repeatedly — not only because of the precision and artistry with which he sings but also from the strong choices he makes in selecting material.
While most of Pomranz’s show was devoted to songs from his new CD, More Than a Seasonal Thing—a salute to the changing seasons through the year—he also sang six or seven songs that had nothing to do with the recording.
He opened the show with Stephen Sondheim’s “Not While I’m Around”—a contrast to the usual up-tempo numbers that traditionally start a show, but a reassurance that nothing would harm us while Pomranz was around. And nothing did.
The standout—and one of the biggest sigh-inducing moments of the evening—was his soft, sweet performance of Noel Coward’s ” A Room with a View.” There were also sighs at the end of his poignant medley of “It Might As Well Be Spring” (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein), plaintively sung in combination with the sweet “Blackberry Winter” (Alec Wilder/Loonis McGlohon), in which Pomranz gently caressed the lyrics. When Pomranz does a medley, it is not simply a string of songs sung back-to-back but a combination of melodies that ends up back where it started to make a statement. So when he combined the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic with the Wilder-McGlohon composition, and then went back to the R&H song at the end, it added an extra note of irony—moving from the wish for spring to a sudden cold spell back to the wish for spring—that wouldn’t have been there without the reprise of the first song.
The same held true for another Pomranz medley—the sweet optimism of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Hugh Martin/Ralph Blaine) followed by the bittersweet message of John Meyer’s “After the Holidays”—a plea to hold a relationship together till the holidays are over—followed by optimism again as Pomranz finished the medley with a return to the Martin-Blaine song.
Pomranz displayed strong acting chops in an ironic reading of “Ten Good Years” (Martin Charnin/Luther Henderson), offered up a powerful vocal on “Give Me the Simple Life” (Harry Ruby/Rube Bloom) and delivered a sweet, full-throated version of Herman Hupfeld’s “As Time Goes By.” There was also an exquisite medley of “Summertime” (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Dubose Heyward)—so rarely sung by a man but handled by Pomranz in a sweet, gentle manner—combined with a mesmerizing take on “Lazy Afternoon” (Jerome Moross/John Latouche). He also sang the haunting “Forever Didn’t Last ‘Til Spring” with the composers, Tom Culver and Effie Joy, in the room.
Pomranz’s accompanist was Steve Bocchino, who also sang occasional harmony and shared some relaxed dialogue with the singer throughout the performance.