By: Paulanne Simmons
Fans who know Marcus Lovett best as the star of musicals such as Phantom of the Opera and Carousel, had a very pleasant surprise at Feinstein’s/54 Below on January 19 and 20. Supported by a six-piece combo, Lovett sang a repertoire that included songs by Lyle Lovett, Billy Joel and Jim Croce, not exactly Broadway fare.
Perhaps this is why Lovett calls his show Marcus Lovett, Moonlighting. Somewhere in the middle of the evening, Lovett even gives the audience the dictionary definition of moonlighting: a second job, in addition to one’s regular employment. However, considering that Lovett’s career has taken a very different direction in recent years, exploration might be a much better word.
Lovett’s voice is not only the trademark for Good Morning America, This Week with George Stephanopoulos and, for seventeen years, The David Letterman Show; he is also the voice-over in thousands of commercials and promotions for television and radio. Given this versatility, it’s not unlikely that Lovett should turn his attention to cabaret, where he wants to “experiment with the genre and synthesize all the things that excite and inspire me.”
Clearly, Lovett is inspired by Jim Croce, who, according to Lovett, once said, “If you mean what you say, people will understand.” Lovett sang Croce’s last recorded song, “I Got a Name” with great feeling. Lovett is also inspired by Lyle Lovett (“I’ve Been to Memphis), Sting (“Roxanne”) and Barry Manilow (“Could It Be Magic”).
But despite his ease with jazzier songs, Lovett did not ignore his roots. His choice of Broadway tunes ran from the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein “If I Loved You” (Carousel) to Sondheim’s “Putting It Together” (Sunday in the Park with George), Schönberg and Boublil’s “Master of the House” (Les Misérables) and “You’ll Be Back” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton.
One of the highlights of the show was the appearance of cabaret veteran Stacy Sullivan, a longtime friend of Lovett who joined him in “If I Loved You.” But with Sullivan or alone, Lovett’s rapport with the audience never faded. HIs career in cabaret, still in its early stages, shows much promise.
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