This review of Blake Zolfo in 25!: A Premature Retrospective 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!
25: A Premature Retrospective
Starring Blake Zolfo
Musical Director: Steve Schalchlin
Director: Andy Gale
The Metropolitan Room
34 West 22nd Street
New York, New York 10010
In his new show entitled 25!: A Premature Retrospective, Blake Zolfo showcased an impressive amount of variety in his voice while skillfully relating his own story to the audience in an artful and humble manner. Well-dressed, funny, and with an accompanist and piano to his right, Blake looked as comfortable on stage at The Metropolitan Room as if he was reclining on a beach with a martini glass tilting in the sun. Blake's "premature retrospective" evidenced both remarkable maturity and prescience. He remarked that his hard work has paid off in different ways than he imagined and related an important truth. While he may have once thought he could have it all at once, he is much more comfortable putting in the work to take it day-by-day at 25 than he was a mere decade ago when he thought he might have been further along in his career. Through brief interludes and often comical lyrics, the audience learned about the things that have driven this young performer to continue to perfect his craft.
About half of the songs Blake performed were written by Blake's accompanist, Steve Schalchlin, and these were some of the most heart-warming and personal. One of the best was a song called "Keep Me Guessing." This funny and cute tune was used to tell the story of one of Blake's past relationships. Through a variety of charming and comedic experiences, Blake learned it was important to him to be kept on his toes. Blake's ability to make stylistic jumps by performing various types of songs kept us "guessing" as to what might come next.
From the very start, Blake had us intrigued. The pair began the performance with "Only Kind Of Music" (Schalchlin), a wonderful duet which featured a surprise instrumental solo. Setting us up for smiles, Blake pulled out a plastic Kazoo. Throughout the night, he showed a consistent ability to adjust his pitch to the needs of the song. He often harmonized well with Steve when needed and broke away with melodic lyrics and robust vocalizations. The tone of the show settled in as light-hearted with Blake performing a fun song called "Triple Threat" (Schalchlin/Shapiro) about being an actor, dancer, and singer just like everyone else in New York. His humility and self-deprecating humor were never too demeaning and were offset by his easy confidence and charming smile.
Blake did also step away from the more humorous part of the show at times to communicate important messages. The first of these was about keeping one's head up despite obstacles. He finished the first short collection of songs with a sonorous version of The Beatles' "I Will" that stood out as particularly well-done. These small song sets were split by interludes about what he had learned from the experience and how it related to the next group of songs. For example, after performing "What's The Point?" (Kander/Pierce), a song and quick tap dance from his recent role in an Off-Broadway play, Kid Victory, he shared that while he learned he typically indulged in relentless preparation, he needed to simply take the risk.
This lesson related well to searching for love in New York, and Blake combined the two for a great collection of songs that included my favorite performance of his from the night: J.D. Souther's "Faithless Love." Blake truly displayed the range of his vocal abilities with this song. It showed his depth, and the song fit nicely within the story of the show as if it was the climax. I do hope he performs more like it in the future. He followed this up with more musical-like songs as well as one by Jule Styne entitled "Make Someone Happy," which he explained is his main mission on stage and with new relationships.
All in all, I must say I am looking forward to the types of things that might be included in a future retrospective by this young and talented performer. He had an easy ability to communicate his story in a relatable way and his timing was impeccable. I think Blake would do well in additional musical roles and hopefully, when he is ready to share more important life lessons, he will have too many musicals and lessons to choose from. Thank you for a fun night at the Met Room Blake, and I'm looking forward to the next one! Blake Zolfo's 25!: A Premature Retrospective will return to The Metropolitan Room on May 25, 2017 and June 22, 2017. Both shows are at 7 p.m. and have a $20.00 cover and $25.00 food/drink minimum. To make reservations, go to www.MetropolitanRoom.com or call 212-206-0440.