Reviews

Brandon Victor Dixon @ 54 Below ****

“Dixon’s Soul of Broadway,” an intimate evening with the Dynamic Brandon Victor Dixon @ 54 Below.

By: Patrick Christiano

December 5, 2023: Making his solo debut at 54 Below with a concert aptly named, “Dixon’s Soul of Broadway,” Brandon Victor Dixon, an authentic Broadway star, effortlessly blended a diverse set of 12 songs, including the encore, to create a memorable cabaret debut at the intimate supper club.  Interspersed with songs from Broadway shows were hit tunes from popular artists, which Brandon inhabited with his own unique take. The result was a sensational delight.  

Brandon Victor Dixon

“Dixon’s Soul of Broadway,” an intimate evening with the Dynamic Brandon Victor Dixon @ 54 Below.

By: Patrick Christiano

December 5, 2023: Making his solo debut at 54 Below with a concert aptly named, “Dixon’s Soul of Broadway,” Brandon Victor Dixon, an authentic Broadway star, effortlessly blended a diverse set of 12 songs, including the encore, to create a memorable cabaret debut at the intimate supper club.  Interspersed with songs from Broadway shows were hit tunes from popular artists, which Brandon inhabited with his own unique take. The result was a sensational delight.  

Dixon, a consummate story- teller with a smooth sensual style, and a stunning voice that can be mellow or soar to the rafters with phenomenal ease, prowled the stage confidently, while carving out deeply felt moments to punctuate the storyline of each song. The man has rizz. His charismatic presence enlivens everything he does, even his spontaneous banter with his vocally enthusiastic audience. 

Moonlighting on Monday evening, his off night from Hell’s Kitchen, Alicia Keys’ new musical loosely based on her life, which is playing eight shows a week at The Public Theater and is set to move to Broadway in the Spring of 2024, Brandon performed two shows, 7pm & 9:30pm, at the intimate supper club, where he commanded the stage with a dazzling display of talent and soul.   

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Photo: Barry Gordin

He opened with a pleading “Heaven On Their Minds,” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice from Jesus Christ Superstar, followed by his rousing take on a Stevie Wonder hit “Heaven Help Us All,” written by Ron Miller. Another highlight was next, an intoxicating take on Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On.”

Brandon has a charming inclusive style, so his banter with the audience endears us to him even more as the evening accumulates. Before the next song, Brandon revealed a challenge early in his career during rehearsals for The Lion King, his first professional show, when he was struggling to hit the high notes on “Endless Night,” even though he had nailed them at the audition. The powers decided to hire a vocal coach to help. This was humiliating for the young professional, and he thought he would be fired, until they decided to lower the key (they do it all the time) allowing him time to discover the solution.  He realized it was a mental problem not a vocal one.   A lesson we all could learn – the power of the mind. This was a mental challenge not a vocal one. Then Dixon launched into a soaring “Endless Night” beautifully hitting all the high notes in the original key. 

Now, into full stride he delivered a haunting “Smile,” by Charlie Chaplin, and a tantalizing rendition of a classic from the 1930s once covered by Billy Holiday, “For All We Know,” followed by a moving “I’ll Cover You,” from Rent.

Other songs Brandon made uniquely his own were a rousing “NY State of Mind,” by Billy Joel, and a splendid “One More For My Baby,” the Jonny Mercer classic, with music by Harold Arlen, which Ole Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, made famous.

The evening closed with another dazzling performance of “Home,” from The Wiz. But before Brandon could leave the stage, the audience demanded and received an encore, an appeal for peace with the original song, ‘Maybe.” 

Musical Director on piano: Rick Hip-Flores
Drums: Damien Bassman

Video: Barry Gordin
Photo: Barry Gordin
Photo: Barry Gordin