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Review: Stacy Sullivan at the Metropolitan Room

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By Andrew Martin and Steve Schonberg

Photo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff

For several decades, the surname Sullivan has been associated with royalty among the world’s cabaret circles. KT Sullivan is a legend herself, as a multi-award-winning cabaret artiste, as well as the new leader of the Mabel Mercer Foundation. Her mother too, Elizabeth Sullivan, is a similarly talented and accomplished vocalist herself. But on April 4, KT’s sister, Stacy Sullivan—hot on the heels of her recent recognition with the 2015 MAC Award for Outstanding Major Artist—stepped forward for her moment in the family’s spotlight with her latest show at the Metropolitan Room. With the recent attention and recognition of Stacy’s outstanding work, and several future dates planned at the club, her show will likely—and should—become one of the most in-demand crowd-pleasers of the season.

In a surprising departure from the standard Great American Songbook and jazz catalogue fare, Sullivan delights from the moment she sets her self on stage with this show, “Since You’ve Asked,” and tears into a highly-contemporary set of songs with a deep and artistic hunger that reaches out to and brings in the audience’s attention.

Backed by a musical combo comprised of Matthew Watanabe at the piano, Jaime Mohamdein on bass and guitarist/musical director Troy Fannin, Stacy in her quartet hooked the audience it the opening strains of the title number by Judy Collins, then kept them enraptured throughout the show, at every turn.

However, it was curious that she opted not to use a percussionist for this show, but perhaps it would overpower her powerful vocals and delivery on numbers such as “Good Things Happen Slowly” by Fred Hersch and David Hadju, her brilliant rendering of “Tornado” by Jonsi, and a lovely rendition of “Who Do You Belong To?” by Rene Rosnes and Hadju. A sincere coupling of Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today” with “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie brought the show to an emotional peak with an appropriate hush before a powerful and deserved round of applause, followed by Ray LaMonatagne’s “Shelter” as a gorgeous tribute to husband Jeff Brown. And her coupling of “Landslide” by Stevie Nicks with “I Get Along Without You Very Well” is truly other-worldly and inexplicable bliss.

What may be the most remarkable about the evening, and perhaps her greatest gift, is that where such stars as Streisand and Midler have the ability to turn the largest concert hall into an intimate jewel box, Sullivan does the exact opposite; she takes a small boite and transforms it into an immense hall, where the stratosphere really knows no bounds. If there is any caveat though to be had here, however, it is her occasionally-heavy reliance on ballads, as it missed her usually marvelous taken on such uptempo classics as Cole Porter’s “Too Darn Hot.”

This show is not merely a must-see, but a wholehearted requirement in definitive cabaret education.

Stacy Sullivan will return to the Metropolitan Room with “Since You’ve Asked” on May 21, with future dates planned throughout the year. For information and tickets visit www.metropolitanroom.com.

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Center On The Aisle -- or #COTA) for short -- was founded by theater expert, Steve Schonberg in 2014, and the site now boasts a team of 15 expert writers and reviewers. Steve created the site to help casual theatergoers easily access informative and entertaining content to help them engage more with the theater, and make confident and informed decisions when selecting shows. With this mission, the #COTA team applies their deep theater knowledge and attendance at hundreds of shows a year to create the site's content. That's quite a task! Covering Broadway, off-Broadway, cabaret, dance, music and more, the #COTA team provides a range of valuable perspectives to inform and engage readers. After all, the theater is part of our history, heritage and cultural identity - it should be engaged in as often as possible. Welcome, again, to #COTA and please come again.

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