This review of Charlie Romo & Friends at The Metropolitan Room was written by Christopher M. Struck and published in Volume X, Issue 7 (2017) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
Charlie Romo & Friends
Starring Charlie Romo
With Michelle DellaFave & Marissa Mulder
The Metropolitan Room
34 West 22nd Street
New York, New York 10010
Charlie Romo held his 21st birthday party at The Metropolitan Room, and all his friends showed up for this talented, devoted, and gracious performer. On stage, we had some of the most exceptional and experienced performers that can be assembled on a Friday night in Manhattan. Above all, Charlie stood out. Starting from a jazzy "Just In Time," Charlie jolted his fantastic following into ecstatic fervor and then held them in suspense with smart stylistic switches across genres that played off the central theme of both his youth and his passion. This culminated with his tribute to Buddy Holly in an especially emotional delivery of "American Pie," which had the entire crowd singing along. Charlie bared all his ambition in connecting the dots between the stars of the past and himself early and often. He called continuously on the great Bobby Darin, and we were lucky enough to have two representatives of his estate in attendance who loaned him a lucky charm for the evening in the form of the singer's gold lighter.
Charlie's own nostalgia-laden anecdotes aside, the adoration and loyalty that he inspires hung in the air like whisky lingers on the tongue. While Charlie got his first taste of whisky on stage courtesy of his manager, Bernie, he definitely paid attention to his loyal friends. The name of the show, Charlie Romo & Friends, fit well because Charlie gave thanks and effusing praise to everyone who had helped him make it this far. This included the Barry Levitt Quartet led by the pianist Barry Levitt whose "Two Of A Kind" duet with Charlie was a fun song I'm glad he added to the program for the evening. While Barry's voice didn't match Charlie's, he did sound like a softer Burt Bacharach. When Charlie called on each by name to perform a quick solo, the three others in the quartet also showcased their ability including newcomer Jon Burr. The other two mainstays, Ronnie Zito and Jack Cavari, were two more examples of Charlie's connection to his inspirations. Jack Cavari had been Frank Sinatra's guitarist, and Ronnie Zito was Bobby Darin's first drummer.
Charlie's flair and emotion were matched by only one extraordinary performer who also had a connection to the past. Michelle DellaFave had worked with Dean Martin, and the two sung a medley of songs Dean Martin made famous after starting with "You're Just In Love." The line, "You need someone who's older" drew laughter from the audience as Michelle deliberately appeared to be offering herself up to Charlie. Michelle also performed a sultry "Sway" and stunned us with an impressive rendition of "That's Amore." Michelle's dance moves also added a tad more pizazz to the performance.
Alongside Michelle and coming out earlier in the evening to perform with Charlie was Marissa Mulder. Compared to both Charlie and Michelle, Marissa did not have the same level of talent or stage presence. Her voice was cutesy and lyrical. She was incapable of singing "It's Only A Paper Moon" through in tune or at an even pitch. She did better with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," which I think showcased the talent that resulted in her getting an invitation to sing in the first place.
The only truly negative aspect of the show, besides Marissa Mulder, were the dancers known as the Romettes. They were good dancers, but they didn't seem to match the theme of the rest of the evening which appeared geared to old-fashioned family fun. During the love song, "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You," Charlie seemed to glare at the pretty, young dancers a little too much before telling them, jokingly, to meet him in his dressing room after the show. Yes, they were pretty, but Charlie could have ignored them and let them do their thing. I feel this would have had a more positive effect on the audience. As it turned out, his staring only made the audience uncomfortable resulting in their becoming subdued for the first time during an otherwise upbeat evening.
That all said, Charlie has something special to offer with his voice and personality. I'm sure it took a lot of work to get to this point but the plain truth is Charlie deserves the praise he has earned. The unquestionable reality is that this young man really does have the level of talent necessary to become a big star and the entire room believed it after he sang his first song. I hope he continues to put in the effort to be great and to be one of the good guys because that is what his following sees in him. Not only does he have talent, but he really has a knack for gaining one's appreciation when on stage. It's as if he is talking to an old friend. Part of that was because he was in a crowd of mostly old friends, but he brings his personality off-stage too. He did a great job of making people feel welcomed. His genuine behavior and natural confidence make for a dynamic pair, especially when combined into one 21-year-old singer with a wonderful voice. Happy Birthday again, Charlie!
Charlie Romo & Friends will return to The Metropolitan Room on Sunday, May 14, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday, October 8, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. General Admission is $24.00 per person with a $25.00 Food/Beverage Minimum. For more information about Charlie Romo, visit his website at https://CharlieRomo.com