Saturday, September 17, 2016

Applause! Applause! Review of Charlie Poveromo & The Barry Levitt Quartet at The Metropolitan Room by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Charlie Poveromo & The Barry Levitt Quartet 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!

Charlie Poveromo & The Barry Levitt Quartet
Starring Charlie Poveromo
Musical Director: Barry Levitt
Quartet Members: Barry Levitt, Ronnie Zito,
Jeff Carney & Jack Cavari
The Metropolitan Room
34 West 22nd Street
New York, New York 10010
Reviewed 9/14/16  

There are scores of performers in cabaret rooms, VFW halls, and nursing homes singing the songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley and other pop stars from the 1950s and 1960s. They always elicit a certain nostalgia from those old enough to have heard those songs performed live. The problem is that many of those ego-driven entertainers don't have good voices, occasionally sing off-key, and are backed by mediocre musicians in the twilight of their careers. None of those faults were present in this show. Charlie Poveromo is an amazing, talented performer and entertainer committed to the music and to interacting with the audience in a manner that makes them feel a part of the show. Six months away from being 21 years old, Charlie graduated from Tottenville High School in Staten Island and was awarded a music scholarship to Wagner College. At Tottenville, he was a member of the Elite Madrigal Choir & Honors Concert Choir, groups led by JoAnne Nolemi, the school's musical director. Ms. Nolemi was quoted as saying, "I have taught voice and chorus for over 20 years. I have sent students to Julliard, Broadway, operas, "American Idol" and "The Voice" and Charlie has the finest, warmest, most beautiful voice I have ever encountered."

Charlie Poveromo is a natural on stage. He appears confident, comfortable, and utterly at ease. His unique but recognizable renditions of popular standards are all audience pleasers. His captivating body language and pitch-perfect technical brilliance reveal he is a fresh, new, exciting talent we feel honored to have seen perform at the very beginning of what promises to be a long and successful career. Mr. Poveromo develops an excellent rapport with his audience. He takes us on a musical journey as a friend might and we are made to feel special, as though the performance is about us and not him

Charlie Poveromo is backed up by The Barry Levitt Quartet, world-class musicians who didn't miss a beat. Barry Levitt, Charlie's musical director, encouraged him to reach the tippy top of his range. Those notes all received the most enthusiastic applause, and deservedly so. Mr. Poveromo jokingly scolded Barry Levitt for pushing him to "modulate to Heaven." Bobby Darin at the Copa in 1960 and Charlie Poveromo at The Metropolitan Room in 2016 were both accompanied by Ronnie Zito on drums. Jeff Carney on bass played for Barbra Streisand and Jack Cavari on guitar had the honor of performing with Frank Sinatra. Barry Levitt has worked with dozens of top artists including Eartha Kitt, Judy Collins, and Ben Vereen. The only criticism I have for Barry Levitt, the musical director, is that he felt the need to add an "Overture" to the show. Given the limited time, the "Overture" could not include snippets of all the primary songs so they were forced to leave out important "orphaned" numbers. Shows of this kind are short, usually one-hour long, and the inclusion of an "Overture" just encroaches on the "meat" of an already constrained performance length.

I was disappointed the show did not have a name or a theme nor did we learn anything personal about the performer other than that he recently made a mistake in a relationship with a girl, which led him to perform "Let Me Try Again." The good news is that with this song, he exhibited the ability to sing in styles different than those highlighted in the show. His body movements were perfect as was his use of the microphone. Half-way through the performance, he asked the audience if they minded if he took off his suit jacket. When some women whistled, he told them "not to get excited" but then said, "my dressing room is downstairs." He seemed not to hear the men who were whistling and waiting for their invitation to visit his dressing room. There were a few things he did on stage, which I personally found distracting. First was his comments to the band saying things such as "Are you ready?", "Play it, boys!", "That's it, Barry!", and "Do it dirty!". Second was his encouragement of the audience to clap at many times during the performance. I know some performers see this as a way to get the audience involved but, in my view, we have paid to see the performer and not to perform ourselves - we are not trained seals. Third, and finally, I don't think it was necessary for him to ask the audience a number of times whether they were enjoying themselves. After all, what are they going to say, "No, I am hating it." He should be able to tell from the applause whether the people in attendance are having a good time. These three items are just personal pet-peeves of mine. Others may not share my viewpoint.

Charlie Poveromo is a very strong singer who never disappoints. He sounds and moves like a veteran performer. This particular evening, he sang "As Long As I Am Singing", "Some Of These Days", "Ace In The Hole", "That's All", "Rags To Riches", "Ain't That A Kick In The Head", "Goody Goody", "Are You Lonesome Tonight", "Volare", "That's Life", "Let Me Try Again", "Mack The Knife", "The Curtain Falls", "Lazy River", and a Bobby Darin Medley, which included "Splish Splash", "Beyond The Sea", "Artificial Flowers", and "Clementine". Overall, it was a beautiful well-structured show with a variety of popular songs in a perfect venue to highlight his talents. Charlie Poveromo comes across as a nice guy from a good, traditional, family of Italian descent. You can imagine yourself having a great time if you were lucky enough to be invited to a barbecue at his home in Staten Island. Relatives and supportive friends filled the audience. Non-related audience members felt welcomed into this circle and given the quality of  the performance, you didn't mind sharing in their enthusiasm for this up-and-coming star.

Charlie Poveromo & The Barry Levitt Quartet will be returning to The Metropolitan Room on Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets cost $24.00 and there is a two-drink minimum. To purchase your tickets, go to The entertainment value you will receive is well-worth the cost of admission!

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