This review of Kim David Smith's Morphium Kabarett at Pangea was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 6 (2016) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Hosted By & Starring Kim David Smith
Special Guest Stars: Joey Arias, Ali McGregor & William Ferguson
Musical Director: Tracy Stark
Piano: Tracy Stark
Bass: Matt Scharfglass
178 Second Avenue
New York, New York 10003
Pure Cabaret Heaven! Superior voices, interesting material, and a magical atmosphere combined to form one of the best evenings of cabaret I have seen in quite some time. Hypnotic & Entertaining! If all cabaret shows contained this degree of talent and intimacy, there would be no worries about the future of this unique art form. I was seduced by newcomer Kim David Smith's charm, charisma, and singing abilities. Whether presenting songs in English, French or German, he always delivered the unexpected and added his own unique flare to the covers of songs he chose to interpret. Impeccably dressed, he captivated the audience and held them close to his heart as he gave them his all. William Ferguson, an opera singer who is Kim David Smith's husband, was a surprise guest who just happened to be in town for the launch of Smith's new Morphium Kabarett, a neo-Weimar cabaret fantasia that juxtaposes authentic period material with an arresting selection of stylistically compatible contemporary pop songs. Mr. Ferguson presented a light-hearted rendition of The Warthog (The Hog Beneath The Skin) written by Flanders & Swann, and a sweet, tender delivery of Beautiful Dreamer, the very last song written by Stephen Foster (found on his desk the day he died). (http://www.williamferguson.com)
Joey Arias, one of the announced special guest stars, is a performance artist and cabaret singer in drag who was tapped by Cirque du Soleil to originate the role of the emcee in the Las Vegas spectacular Zumanity. I saw him in that show, which was a role he played for six years. He was absolutely fabulous there as he was here. Joey Arias has the ability to win over an audience with the bat of a single eyelash. Sure, he forgot some lyrics and his earrings kept falling off, but none of that mattered. His sleek style, stage presence, and scandalous wit carried the day making the entire audience instant fans. He sang his own unique Billie Holiday-inspired renditions of You've Changed (music & lyrics by Bill Carey& Carl Fischer) and God Bless The Child (Arthur Herzog & Billie Holiday). As a younger man, he never got his ears pierced because he says, "I was afraid people would think I was gay." His friends would say, "I wouldn't worry about getting your ears pierced. The way you walk and talk already puts you at risk of being clocked." (http://www.earldax.com/arias.html)
Australian singing sensation Ali McGregor, one of the two new Artistic Directors of the 16th annual Adelaide Cabaret Festival, missed the curtain call at the night's performance of Hamilton, to rush over in a taxi to perform a few numbers for her fellow Australian. She played a 1980s Suzuki Omnichord to redeem AC/DC's reputation by performing a cover of "You Shook Me All Night Long." She also sang a song for all the "glorious misfits" in the audience who got off their asses and left their homes on a Monday night to catch this show. She sang the song Creep that was made famous by Radiohead (music & lyrics by Colin Greenwood, Jonathan Greenwood, Albert Hammond, Mike Hazelwood, Edward O'Brien, Philip Selway & Thomas Yorke). Ali McGregor is delightful and a joy to experience. (http://www.alimcgregor.com)
The brilliance and diversity of the songs presented by Kim David Smith are best reflected by the haunting and inspired renditions of Pirate Jenny (a well know song from The Threepenny Opera written by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht) and Song Of Black Max (written by William Bolcom with lyrics by Arnold Weinstein) on the one hand and his complete reinvention of the more modern You Keep Me Hangin' On (Holland-Dozier-Holland) and Space Oddity (music & lyrics by David Bowie). The line from the Creep song sung by Ali McGregor ("You are so fucking special") seemed to be a good fit for Kim David Smith's commentary on American parenting methods ("You're great - no matter what!"), which he called "utter nonsense." Tracy Stark, the musical director, performed well, as did Matt Scharfglass on bass. Unfortunately, Mr. Scharfglass wore jeans to this upscale performance venue, which detracted from the professionalism everyone was striving to achieve.
Kim David Smith's Morphium Kabarett will return to Pangea on May 9, 16, and 23 at 9:30 p.m. with all new Guest Stars. The cover charge is $25.00, with a $20.00 food and drink minimum. To purchase tickets online, visit www.pangeanyc.com or for information, call 212-995-0900. To learn more about the sensational Kim David Smith, visit his website at http://www.KimDavidSmith.com or contact him @KimDavidSmith (Instagram/Twitter).