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'Broadway Boys' stir up heat in Cabaret debut

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"The Broadway Boys"

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Six of the brightest young male performers from the Great White Way showed off their formidable talents in “Broadway Boys: Hark!” Wednesday at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club in downtown Indianapolis. Closing the Cabaret’s 2013 fall/winter season with their touring holiday show, the group performed during a four day run that ended Saturday.

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The singers, who have all performed in Broadway shows at one time or another, consisted of Daniel Torres (“Evita”), Gabe Violett (“Spring Awakening”), Travis Moran (“Rock of Ages”), John Dias (“Jersey Boys”), Zal Owen (“Fiddler on the Roof”), and Brad Geer (“Altar Boyz”).

They were accompanied by James Sampliner on piano, Dan Asher on bass guitar and Mike Nappi on drums.

The photogenic young men, all whom possessed loads of charm, charisma and infectious energy, performed show tunes and classic pops songs infused with elements of jazz, rock, pop, gospel and funk—showcasing their spectacular voices as they sung intricate harmonies arranged by the show’s creator, Jesse Nagor. Serving as their music director was Justin Paul.

Act 1 saw each performer telling stories about where they were from, their childhoods and how they chose musical theatre as their career with a common theme of finding themselves most fulfilled when they were on a stage. Each followed with solos. Standouts were John Dias (whose falsetto landed him the role of Frankie Valli in "Jersey Boys") in “On Broadway,” Daniel Torres, who sang “Electricity,” Gabe Violett’s rendition of “Neverland” from “Peter Pan” and Brad Geer’s version of “Home” from “The Wiz.”

During Act II Travis Moran shone in Mariah’s Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” So did Zal Owen who sang the moving Hebrew hymn "Ma'oz Tzur" followed by “The Lights,” a Hanukkah song during which he was joined the other group members.

Geer, who exuded a gregarious presence throughout the show, was also impressive as he sang David Foster’s “Grown Up Xmas List."

Numbers which featured the entire ensemble, such as “December, 1963,” “Melodies of Xmas” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” revealed clever choreography which showcased the dynamic performers’ considerable dancing skills.

Though highly entertaining, the show was spoiled by over-amplification, which, for a room the size of the Crystal Terrace, caused the sound level to be nearly overbearing. Also, though one can certainly appreciate riffs and runs which are so popular with many of today's performers, it’s too bad that so much focus was placed on vocal embellishment. Such excess left this writer wishing these gifted artists had been given more of an opportunity to express themselves through original melodies as they were written, which would have made for less redundancy and more of a balanced presentation.

For tickets and information about the Cabaret at the Columbia Club’s 2014 winter/spring season call (317) 275-1169 or visit www.thecabaret.org.

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