Saturday, April 8, 2017

Applause! Applause! Review of Charlie Romo & Friends at The Metropolitan Room by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Charlie Romo & Friends at The Metropolitan Room was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens 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
Reviewed 3/31/17

Charlie Romo & Friends was an upbeat entertainment extravaganza offering up diverse song selections and some remarkably talented singers and musicians. Charlie Romo (born Charles Poveromo, Jr. on March 31, 1996 at 7:24 p.m. at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn while his father, Charles Sr., went out to eat at John's Hot Dog Stand) claims he was born "with a microphone in his hand." However, I suspect his memory is faulty and he was probably born holding something else in his hand, which might explain the multiple pleas he makes during the show for young women to meet him in his dressing room after the show. He claims he is only joking but when the Romettes came on stage to dance, he claimed he was willing to take either one of these scantily dressed dancers. You know - when the wind blows and all that - he's ready for action. At exactly 7:24 p.m., Bernie Furshpan, his Manager, brought him a stiff drink in celebration of his 21st birthday. Charlie reminded us of Frank Sinatra's quip, "I feel sorry for those who don't drink because when they wake up in the morning, that's the best they're going to feel all day!"

Charlie Romo expanded his repertoire by singing a number of varied show tunes (including "Hello, Dolly") but he really sees himself as a modern-day Bobby Darin. In fact, two representatives from the estate of Bobby Darin (born Walden Robert Cassotto) were in attendance as Charlie paid tribute to the singer-songwriter. They allowed him to hold one of Bobby Darin's gold lighters as a source of inspiration for the evening and in tribute to him for keeping Bobby Darin's memory (and light) alive. Charlie views himself as the next great singer in the tradition of such legends as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly, Frankie Valli and even Ray Charles, a greatest hits tape he was caught listening to by his teacher in third grade. The gold lighter still worked. Charlie's response was, "Bobby Darin's flame has not died. His name and legacy will live on as long as I'm alive." There were other connections to the past on stage with Charlie during the evening. Ronnie Zito, a drummer for Bobby Darin, backed up Charlie as part of The Barry Levitt Quartet, and Jack Cavari, another member of the Quartet, was a guitarist for Frank Sinatra. Michelle DellaFave, a Special Guest Singer, worked with Dean Martin and was one of the original Golddiggers on his television show. She, too, also worked with Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and many other legends over the years.

Announcing "Hey World - Here I Am!", Charlie Romo has certainly made his mark during this past year. He was recognized by Broadway World as having had the Best Debut Show (2016) and was designated a Distinguished Artist by the Beaux Arts Society, Inc., an internationally recognized society of artists founded in 1857. Charlie is described on his website (www.CharlieRomo,com) as being "Today's Hottest Crooner Singing the Music of Yesterday" and having "the showbiz swagger and scintillating sparkle of Sinatra, Darin, Torme and Crosby." Opening the show with "Don't Rain On My Parade," while referencing the rain and windy weather outside, Charlie said, "Nobody's going to rain on my parade. Not even Mother Nature!" The room was completely sold out and they couldn't even close the curtains because management needed to add extra tables to accommodate the overflow crowd. Peggy Eason, the blind Chocolate Diva, was seated front and center, and Maryann Lopinto, a cabaret regular, was caught playing a trick on Peggy by telling her Charlie was performing in the nude. I was asked to back up her unlikely story and told Peggy it was true and that is why Bernie didn't seat any guests in the first row (risk of eyes being poked out and so forth). Some of my favorite numbers were 'Two Of A Kind," a duet Charlie sang with Barry Levitt, "I Got A Woman," a Ray Charles song he performed with the extremely talented Denise Spank Morgan and Anthony Morgan as backup singers, and "Mack The Knife," which always gets the audience swinging. Micki Weiner and Kaitlyn Mayse provided visual eye candy as The Romettes Dancers while Charlie sang "Can't Take My Eyes Off You."

The show featured two major guest stars. Michelle DellaFave is a classy, talented performer with an excellent stage presence. She spoke of her experiences working with Dean Martin, and then together with Charlie Romo, sang some of the songs that helped make Dean Martin a household name (even my nephew was named after him). The Dean Martin Medley included "Everybody Loves Somebody," "Sway," "Return To Me," and "That's Amore." Charlie and Michelle also sang "You're Just In Love," which was an audience favorite. Michelle even performed a few dance moves, which showed everyone she still has it. Marissa Mulder, on the other hand, is an overrated performer who never had it but who somehow keeps popping up all over the cabaret circuit leaving audience members wishing they could shove a screwdriver through their eardrums so as to stop listening to her singing off tune and in a "novelty song" style (think "They're Coming To Take Me Away" by Napoleon XIV). Ms. Mulder sang her favorite song, "It's Only A Paper Moon," in an awkward "duet" with Charlie Romo and showed the audience she recently had the lyric from that song, "It's a Barnum & Bailey world," tattooed on her wrist. With just a few more tattoos, she may find her way to her true home in a travelling circus instead of on the cabaret circuit, where a cabaret aficionado told me half of most audiences can only tolerate her singing while the other half hate her with a passion. If you think I am exaggerating, seek out an opportunity to hear her perform and let me know what you think. I will respect your opinion. 

Charlie Romo performed a rousing tribute to Buddy Holly and Richie Valens singing "Sleepwalk," "Chantilly Lace," "That'll Be The Day," and "La Bamba." "American Pie," which was written about the death of Buddy Holly, bookended the tribute. He also sang "Just In Time," and "If I Ruled The World" before Bernie Furshpan appeared on stage to toast his turning 21 years of age, which signalled the bringing in of the cake, a slice of which everyone in the audience received. It was actually quite delicious! 

I expect you will be hearing about Charlie Romo for many years to come. He is a decent, talented fellow with a good heart who comes from a good family. He is also a brilliant performer who is ready to take his career to the next level. In my opinion, he should already have one or two CDs out and he is definitely at a point in his career where he has the ability to fill larger venues with his family, friends, and fans. When you leave a Charlie Romo show, you are in a better mood than when you went in. He lifts your spirits and leaves you with the feeling there is something very good in the world. Unfortunately, some older people might get a little depressed realizing they may only be around to observe a small sliver of what no doubt promises to be a long and successful career. Nevertheless, we are all here now and can continue to enjoy his voice and crowd-pleasing skills for as long as we are alive.

Charlie Romo & Friends returns 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. Don't miss it!

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