Jason Morris, the 2013 MetroStar 1st Runner Up, returned to the Metropolitan Room with encore performances of his acclaimed new show, MUSICALLY YOGIC
Although this show closed at the Metropolitan Room, with cabaret the show is never really over, is it? Which is a good thing because Jason Morris should come back soon. Backed by no less than five extraordinary singers: Tanya Holt, Gretchen Reinhagen, Jackie Krystel, Wendy Anne Russell, and Kathleen Stuart, Morris is a singer unafraid to shout it out. Tracy Stark, serving as Musical Director pulls every ounce of life out of these folks. Matt Scharfglass on bass and Jeff Roberts on drums are a fantastic addition to the company.
On the evening I saw Mr. Morris it took him some time to get going. Part of this reason may be the designated hook for the evening, which is Yoga. One hopes he is now over that – and it is a personal wonder of mine why people insist on imposing themes on cabaret acts. This is slightly different from finding a theme in my book. Collecting songs and finding their connecting elements is not the same as picking a glass slipper of a theme and trying to wedge your foot into it. Mr. Morris spent a lot of time talking to us about Yoga – he is an instructor of note – and encouraging us to “breath and let go” when it appeared he was not taking his own advice in that department.
That being said, when Morris lands on the stage he is clearly in his element. Mr. Morris shares a lot of himself during the evening and told us that he is returning to the stage after some time away. This was evident in some of the numbers, Baby Mine (from Dumbo, written by Frank Churchill and Ned Washington) where his vocal gymnastics washed the life out of a song no one should mess with. In other numbers, however, Morris shines – in particular Will You Be There (Michael Jackson) and Mr. Tanner (Harry Chapin).
On the technical side, the glorious women out powered Mr. Morris and then some. As well, Morris seemed a little down. The house was small in number, and it bothered him. I get that. I once had to perform a one-person show for an audience of one. The performer’s responsibility, however, is to lead us, however many, into rejoicing. Morris did create inspiring moments, but we could have used a few more. And so could he.
I look forward to seeing Jason Morris again, and I hope he will jettison everything that puts distance between him and the music that he loves. Remove it all and just sing. Keep it simple. As he himself suggests– let everything go and be with the music. It is the more daring move, and a person has to be willing to be very vulnerable to pull it off. But I have seen it done, and the magic is worth it.