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Singer and pianist Steve Ross is appearing at the Grandel Theatre Cabaret through this Sunday.
That statement, all by itself, will be enough to convince anyone fortunate enough to catch Ross in one of his four previous appearances in St. Louis to rush out and buy tickets. Which, judging from the packed house on opening night, many have already done. For those of you who, like me, somehow managed to miss out on the delightful experience that this master of cabaret provides let me just say that Mr. Ross performance is not to be missed. Debonair, witty and charismatic, Steve Ross never fails to get straight to the heart of every song, whether its an obscure comic gem like Teeny Tiny Lady (which I havent heard in decades), a sentimental standard like Thanks for the Memory (Bob Hopes theme song, which he introduced in The Big Broadcast of 1938), or Jacques Brels darkly comic Jackie. Without fail, Ross makes certain that you not only hear but actually listen to the lyrics – a skill that many other performers would do well to emulate, if they can.
Whats all the more amazing is that Ross does this with a voice that, technically, isnt all that great. Its breathy –almost hoarse – and not always all that accurate. The intelligence behind that voice, however, is formidable and that, combined with Ross easygoing, assured style and ability to immediately connect with the audience are what make an evening with Steve Ross an object lesson in why cabaret is such a vibrant art form.
Steve Ross is also a canny programmer. He crams over thirty songs into his two hour and twenty minute show, and yet it never seems rushed. And the variety is astounding. There are standards like the Gershwins SWonderful, Mercer and Mancinis Two for the Road, the bluesy Arlen/Mercer classic One for My Baby and Alexanders Ragtime Band; little-known nuggets such as Hungry Women, The Dolphin and Subway to the Country; and new takes on songs most of us probably thought we knew, such as a version of Mr. Cellophane (from Chicago) that segues into and out of Scott Joplins Solace so easily that youd think thats what Kander and Ebb had in mind all along.
In short, if you really love musical theatre, it doesnt get much better than this. Steve Ross will be appearing at the Grandel Theatre Cabaret through this Sunday; call Metrotix at 314-534-1111 to order tickets. And if youre part of the wired world, check out Mr. Rosss web site at www.steveross.net.
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