This review of Blake Zolfo's Happily Ever After* (see footnote) at The Metropolitan Room was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 6 (2016) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Happily Ever After* (see footnote)
Starring Blake Zolfo
Director: Lauren Kidwell
Musical Director: Mark Janas
Special Guest: Steve Schalchlin
The Metropolitan Room
34 West 22nd Street
New York, New York 10010
Who is the charismatic, entertaining performer able to fill a large cabaret room with enthusiastic, adoring fans after only one year of being in New York City? Is he the monster at the end of the book, the Choir Boy at St. Clement's Episcopal Church, the Front Desk Guy at Equinox? Perhaps you met him through a gay dating application during one of his unending searches for the "love of his life" and his own personal Happily Ever After? Maybe you caught his eye in a subway car without knowing his back story or that he is "the new kid in town" taking acting lessons and working to achieve his dream of becoming a Broadway star. In case you were unaware of the fact, let me be the first to tell you that Blake Zolfo is the latest singing sensation in the New York Cabaret Community. I caught his New York City Cabaret Debut at The Metropolitan Room in order to report to you my impressions of this good-looking, clean-cut, finely dressed, extremely talented newcomer. Blake Zolfo has a pleasant, sincere personality and a beautiful voice. He has succeeded in putting together a well-crafted show with an interesting song selection.
Born in Crown Point, Indiana, Blake Zolfo graduated High School in 2010 and then moved to Chicago for a year where he took acting classes (Acting Studio Chicago), dance classes (Lou Conte Dance Studio), and private voice lessons (Trish Hales). In the fall of 2011, he was admitted to The Boston Conservatory where he earned a BFA in Musical Theatre. He has appeared as a Guest Artist with the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, won the W.I.S.E. Award ("Emerging Artist") for playing Alfred in Little Murders, and was most recently seen touring as Luke in the Theatre Works USA production of The Lightning Thief. He is an actor, singer, and dancer who is a member of Actors' Equity Association. One year ago, he moved to New York City to see if he could make it here. He has now successfully launched his first cabaret show with the very talented Mark Janas as Musical Director and Steve Schalchlin ("My New York Life") as Guest Star. Blake Zolfo deserves to place a pink feather in his hat for this accomplishment because a pink feather represents "unconditional love, romance, caring, compassion, empathy, kindness, gentleness, harmony and faithfulness" - qualities he appears to have as reflected in the theme of the show, which was his commitment to Happily Ever After and the rude awakenings and heartbreak he went through when things didn't turn out exactly as he had planned.
In The Monster At The End Of This Book, Sesame Street character Grover eventually realizes he is the monster he was trying desperately to avoid. For Zolfo, the monster represents his fear of being alone. Hence, his perpetual search for "true love." At age 13, his first "perfect relationship" lasted two weeks. Back in Indiana, he had a girlfriend for six years - his first Happily Ever After! That didn't work out and after having ten boyfriends in ten years, he eventually found Gerald, his second Happily Ever After. Despite loving him with absolute devotion and loyalty, eventually, his heart was once again broken ("I Live Alone Again" - John Wallowitch). He is now "gun-shy" (interesting use of that phrase) about dating and wonders whether he will ever love that freely again, but he still goes on regretting nothing because he optimistically believes that all he has gone through will eventually lead him to "the one." To reflect his unending optimism, he finishes off the show singing "Anyway" (Marina McBride) ("Build It Anyway, Sing It Anyway, Do It Anyway, Love Them Anyway") and "On My Way To You" (Michel Legrand) ("I wouldn't change a thing on my way to you"). The show includes a spirited rendition of "Orange Colored Sky" (DeLugg/Stein) and a very believable "Stuck On You" (Dick Gallagher). "No More" (Stephen Sondheim) lacked the emotional impact I expected it would have and the show could have used a number of additional true anecdotes from his life, but overall, it was a huge success. At the end, Blake Zolfo received a spirited and enthusiastic standing ovation from the audience.
Blake Zolfo is destined to have a long and successful career in musical theater. Catch him when you can! For more information about Blake Zolfo, visit his website at http://www.blakezolfo.com/