Nick Pitera has been tooling around cabaret venues to perfect a show that he envisions will some day be banked by walls of flashing monitors, misty smoke, a myriad of mirrors, and dramatic stage lighting. Meanwhile, the streamlined version of his show, equipped with a music stand of notes on what to do next, makes Nick a very accessible performer, as if the millions of views of his YouTube videos weren't enough.
Nick is on a mission of discovery, dialing-in his show on-the-fly as he progresses on a self-made journey of fulfilling his dreams. That in itself was an inspiring message to a sold-out, sardine-packed audience of conservatory students at the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) Webb Theatre on Friday night, one of three shows scheduled for September 13 and 14th, 2013. Yes, Nick has successfully transitioned from the web to the Webb.
Surrounded by thrilled and, in some instances, hysterical YouTube groupies, Nick charmed the crowd with established and new material, all designed to showcase his phenomenal vocal range, from falsetto to alto in one breath. And he does do it in one breath. It's not a trick, as some have charged with his YouTube videos. He's for real. And perhaps too real. That he doesn't have a trick also exposes him to some trickier vocal technique issues as his career evolves. Already with the pressure of live performance that's not masked by theatricality, and the negatively-influential Santa Ana winds, his voice quavered and buzzed a few times on those notes where typically women reign supreme. But still, he was downright unreal as he glided from falsetto to alto and everything in between -- a gifted range that would translate well into one of his other passions -- animation. As his singing career trajectory charts from Internet to international touring sensation, Nick serves as a modeling artist and animator at Pixar Studios (another of his childhood dreams come true). Since he was a kid, he recollected during his show, he was heavily influenced by Disney animation. His first film experiences were watching and listening to Belle, Jasmine, Ariel and Pocahontas. Now, he sings their songs and works with an affiliated company, bringing magic to the masses.
Nick Pitera is king and queen of his own show, with a range that the likes of impressionists Rich Little, Mel Blanc and John Byner would have envied early in their careers. Indeed, the most entertaining aspect of his show is when he plays into the schtick that made him a viral sensation. The audience was most responsive (okay, that's a tepid way of saying they squealed like the girls they are) when Nick crooned out the highs and lows of popular tunes, with a tongue-in-cheek homage to the ditties that make Disney musicals so appealing. He powered through song after song, relentlessly, revealing an energy and passion that has and will continue to catapult him -- maybe to infinity and beyond. Voice-over work should be one of his next dreams, as Nick surely knows the biggest issue for dreamers who get what they wish for is to constantly reset and re-imagine what they want next.
Though he's in control of his audience, he's smartly mentored by the brilliant Susan Egan, an OCSA alumna and the Broadway star who portrayed Belle in the original production of Beauty and the Beast. Nick expressed his impressive step to the big time was swift and swirling when he was flown from Florida to California to meet composer and star-maker, David Foster. A tad intimidated by Foster's grand piano adorned with his 16 Grammy Awards, Nick shifted gears on all the hullabaloo and focused on doing his own thing. Admittedly, Nick is unique, and had his talent been mainstreamed, it no doubt would have also been diluted of its spontaneity and spark. By not choosing a route into the traditional music industry, he had time to reflect and internalize on his short and long range goals. Now Nick is larger than ever on YouTube and in control of his career and personality. He maintains, by his own design, a one-on-one relationship with his audience. He posed perfectly, gleamed a bright authentic smile, and took photos, countless photos, with each audience member at OCSA; he signed autographs, consented to blurry iPhoto retakes, group shots in various configurations, chatted with and was gracious to every kid-kindred spirit who crossed his path. In sum, he was a real charmer. He was a guy who let the cute roll and sang his heart out, not literally but visually: every entrant to the show got a heart-shaped sticker, his signature icon that expresses his heartfelt convictions of happy endings, which he delivered to his fans with fervor and finesse.
To follow all the stories and trends in Pop Culture, be sure to + SUBSCRIBE below. You will be notified when new articles and reviews are published.