I went to see Craig Pomranz’s show as a civilian—no notebook, no request for song list…only to find myself madly scribbling on the backs of comment cards left on the tables. A journalist’s gotta do what a journalist’s gotta do and this show should be seen.
Wake Me Up When September Ends (Green Day/Billie Joe Armstrong) is a lovely song and an intriguing preface. Summer has come and passed/the innocent can never last… Pomranz’s understated performance stills the audience immediately. Was there a summer romance? Is it over? Were you dumped? Welcome to the Club (Noel Sherman/Dick Wolf) paired with Well Did You Evah (Cole Porter) lighten the emotional fallout with pop renditions. You’re not alone. We had a heck of a time. The Things We Did Last Summer (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn) creates memory of heartbreak—the first step away from mourning.
The thru-line here is eloquent and elegant. Songs are apt and not all familiar to those less steeped in The American Songbook—as well as some who think they know it well. Bridging comments and repartee are deft-world-weary, romantic, and rather sweet.
It’s Never Too Late to Fall in Love (Sandy Wilson) completely changes the mood. Here Pomranz (and Musical Director/Accompanist, Stephen Boccino) are playful as well as hopeful. Pomranz showcases his comic chops and we have the opportunity to laugh. His old man is a hoot. You might find love, then, at any age, anywhere, any time. Flash! ’Too late now to forget your smile/the way we cling when we’ve danced awhile… (Too Late Now—Burton Lane & Alan Jay Lerner) “It could happen at a Halloween party—across the room you see her/him bobbing for apples:” Look at That Face (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley) We’re all thinking of our own experience now. How many cabaret performances bestow that gift?
I’m going out on a limb presuming Love at an Auction by Murray Grand, a New York piano bar staple for four decades “who never met an innuendo he didn’t like” will be new to most listeners. Pomranz portrays every bit of pithy suggestion with apparent glee. Another good time had by all. My cheeks hurt from smiling.
Living on internet dating sites? Serially rejected? The Meaning of the Blues (Bobby Troup/Leah Worth) indicates setbacks along the path. This is a jazzy arrangement. The color of her eyessssss, Pomranz sings in almost a stage whisper. He holds notes like butterflies, gently, but firmly, never harming the wings. “Get out there, don’t procrastinate,” he admonishes. Shaking the Blues Away, which follows (Irving Berlin-Ziegfeld Follies 1927,) is a honky-tonk piece. Pomranz opens up clear and strong filling the room with sustained sound. Piano solos during both these numbers are a genuine, infectious pleasure.
A really original segue? What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (Frank Loesser) Here’s romanticism at its best in a sensitive, wistful interpretation. “If you’ve found that special relationship, never take it for granted. It takes work.” How Do You Keep the Music Playing? (Michel Legrand/Alan & Marilyn Bergman) feels absolutely personal. Pomranz’s voice slowly builds like fresh taffy pull. We’re moved.
I Love Being Here With You (Bill Schluger/Peggy Lee) and One Hour With You (Richard Whiting/Eddie Cantor) “…don’t you love the word twill? twill be my delight?” end the evening with what could easily have been sheer schmaltz in other hands.
This is an extremely successful show—in collaboration, writing, choices made, and in sustained, polished performance. A perfect opportunity to acquaint yourself with talents at their best (to date).
Read Alix Cohen’s profile of Craig Pomranz
The Year Is Winding Down, But It’s Never Too Late For Love
Wednesday, October 27 at 9:30 p.m.
The Metropolitan Room
34 West 22 Street
www.metropolitanroom.com or 212-206-0440