Passion is contagious. It really doesn’t matter the subject. As a for instance, a few months back I was visited by a woman from the landlord’s office who was there to check on the faucets. Mine, as it happens, were dripping just enough to send her over the moon. She explained in graphic detail that this sort of thing was not only wasteful, but it was an environmental calamity. She did what needed to be done to the faucets, talking all the while. So passionate was she that I was tempted to tag along when she visited other apartments just to soak up some of that energy.
I had that same feeling the other night when I was lucky enough to be in the audience at the Metropolitan Room when Harold Sanditen celebrated his fourth cabaret show, Shades of Blue, and the release of his CD by the same name. With a style reminiscent of Noël Coward (Sanditen was born in Oklahoma but has lived in England since 1987) Sanditen is at once understated and a bit mischievous. This is a man with a chunk of life behind him, and he wants to share it with anyone who will listen. Sanditen was an investment banker in New York from 1983-1987. The following 20 years he spent as a theatre producer in England. In 2007 he decided to let his heart be his guide and moved from producing to performing.
Sanditen could not be happier, and it shows. His choice of music is eclectic – like life. His attention to the lyrics turns each song into a story whose melody is familiar, but the tale itself is new to your ears. He’s Got A Way (Bill Joel) and Landslide (Stevie Nicks – “a fuzzy haired singer in the 1970’s”) are two of the outstanding refreshed numbers. The lyrics he has added to Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me (Swanstrom/ McGarron/Morgan) are snappy and seriously contemporary but so clever that at first you don’t notice what Sanditen has done. He modifies – and gets away with it – Stately Homes of England to Studley Homes of England with new lyrics by Barry Kleinbort. He puts a new spin on Me and Mrs. Jones (Leon Huff and Carey Gilbert) that is way outside the box and makes perfect sense. His interpretation of Bluebird (Leon Russell) will make you know you have a heart because you will feel it breaking.
The theme of the evening is blue (Sanditen asks, “Did you ever notice that water is not blue but appears to be because it reflects the sky, which is not blue either?”) but it could have been any subject, because Sanditen’s repertoire is so vast. But having chosen Blue he drops facts like flowers on a path. For instance, the song Blue Skies (that Sanditen give a jubilant jolt) was written by Irving Berlin but had its premiere in Betsy a musical by Rogers and Hart. Yipes.
The evening ended with The Secret of Life (James Taylor) – given as a gift, a bit of advice with some legs. Sanditen’s choice to pursue a dream is a reminder to us all. Do SOMETHING, do ANYTHING that makes you happy, he seems to be telling us.
Make someone happy, that someone being yourself, and watch the world change in front of your eyes.
For you Fortunates who will be in London, Sanditen will be premiering his next show, Full Circle, at the St. James Theatre on November 23 and will be appearing in Cafe Society Swing at the Arts Depot on November 21 and the Leicester Square Theatre on December 21 and 22. He also hosts a weekly open mic night at the Crazy Crocs.
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