It’s obvious that four-time Tony nominee Gregg Edelman revels in spending his evening off performing Broadway love tunes at 54 Below, a cabaret unlike the one in the revival he did with Joel Grey. He admitted that walking downstairs to perform on Monday evening was much like a bus man’s holiday from playing the Rev. Mr. Chrisparkle in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at the Roundabout upstairs. Fellow cast members were there to cheer him on except Chita Rivera who has been under the weather with a bad cold.
Edelman, at 56, is one of his generation’s romantic leads on Broadway, but he says he was born 20 years too late. The nightclub stage is his true passion. “I can talk to the people; they can talk back.” He clearly enjoyed the interaction with the audience at his first club appearance in NY in two years. “It rejuvenates me,” he told me after the show. The venue suits him well, allowing him to share a candid side of himself not possible on the Broadway stage.
He credits his mother for endearing him to Broadway music and steering his search for his deep passion. Edelman’s love for cabaret entertaining is no secret. He’s right at home and exhibits not only extraordinary talent, but a charisma and warmth that are an integral part of his style. He shares colorful, touching and humorous personal anecdotes while transitioning from one number to the next.
After auditioning for the part of Cliff Bradshaw in the 1987 revival of “Cabaret,” John Kander invited Edelman to his house where he was offered a memorable surprise. “Fred Ebb and I wrote a new song for you.” Edelman turned pages for him while he played “Don’t Go.”
An unusual medley, which held the attention of the audience, was one of love songs from blockbuster films – Sophie’s Choice, Psycho, Da Vinci Code– perhaps unfamiliar because they ended up on the cutting room floor.
Edelman demonstrated that he’s an amazing Sondheim interpreter with “Send In The Clowns.” He described a session with Mr. Sondheim in a room with only the composer and a pianist. Sondheim said, “Stop, you’re singing it great, but I’m interested in the character, the story and the bonding that happens.”
A heartfelt rendition of Cole Porter’s “Long Last Love” was followed by an amazing encore, “Bring Him Home,” from Les Miserables. That song means a lot to this performer who turned down a role in the original Broadway production. Years later, Trevor Nunn asked him to do it. He related a touching story about singing this number on stage while waiting for his son, Ethan, to be born.
Barry Kleinbort directed this memorable show. Ross Patterson accompanied on piano and Bob Remino on bass. Don’t miss it. There’s one more performance: Monday, Jan. 21, at 7 pm. For tickets, call 646-476-3551 or www.54Below.com