Saloon Sensation

by Patrick Newley

One of New York’s brightest saloon singers Craig Pomranz will be performing in London at Pizza on the Park from August 3 for three nights only. Noted for his three-octave alto-tenor voice, the critically acclaimed cabaret star’s repertoire often includes everything from rock standards to songs from old and new Broadway musicals. He numbers among his many influences such artists as Barbra Streisand, Kay Thompson, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Doris Day and even George Michael.

“I’m fond of artists who, with great sounds, can also tell a story and appreciate the meaning of a lyric,” he says. “Chet Baker sits high on my pantheon, as do Nancy Wilson and Nat ‘King’ Cole, Peter Allen, whose music can be very theatrical, gave me songs to sing. His ‘I Never Thought I’d Break’ is rarely heard and one that I often sing.”

Pomranz was born in St. Louis and at the age of 12 performed with the St. Louis Municipal Opera with Sally Anne Howes in Camelot. Later he studied at Chicago’s famous Goodman Theatre before bursting on to the New York cabaret scene in 1979. The New York Post described him as the town’s best new male singer.

Soon he was headlining in New York’s top nightspots including The Duplex, The Horn of Plenty and Danny’s Skylight Room and later established a name for himself in out of town plays and musicals.

So does Pomranz have a favourite song in his repertoire?

“Noel Coward’s ‘If Love Were All’ or ‘The Way You Look Tonight,'” he says. “On my CD I sing some rather obscure blues and jazz numbers – ‘Love Is the Thing’ and ‘Funny, Not Much,’ both recorded by Nat ‘King’ Cole, and ‘Don’t Go to Strangers,’ recorded by the unbelievable Etta Jones.”

“I also have to say anything by Rodgers and Hart or a good Stephen Sondheim tune will always do. It is always exciting when a new composer is given the opportunity to step out front. I often listen to contemporary pop music and new musicals when looking for new material.”

No stranger to London, Pomranz considers himself a complete Anglophile.

“I’ve come to London often and have always found the chance to sing. London audiences seem to take live performances more seriously and intently. Americans can be quite boisterous depending on the venue and seem to have a more casual attitude. But When you connect with a British audience – you know they are totally involved and with you, and when you give them that moment, their response is sensational.”