Monday, March 21, 2016

Applause! Applause! Review of David Meulemans' Lucky To Be Me at The Metropolitan Room by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of David Meulemans' Lucky To Be Me at The Metropolitan Room was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 6 (2016) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Lucky To Be Me
Starring David Meulemans
Conceived & Directed by Sally Mayes
Musical Director: Hubert "Tex" Arnold
Bass: Bob Renino
The Metropolitan Room
34 West 22nd Street
New York, New York 10010
Reviewed 3/19/16  

Fresh from the Condo Circuit in South Florida, David Meulemans is spreading his wings by bringing some sunshine into the cabaret rooms of New York City. This Dade County Dandy is a finely polished, classically trained singer born in Appleton, one of the Fox Cities of Northeast Wisconsin built along the Fox River that flows from Lake Winnebago northward into Green Bay. David earned a Bachelor's degree from Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Appleton, where he began his performing career in stage plays, concert work, recordings and solo cabaret shows. The timeline and the details of  the life of Appleton's Pride are unclear, but the bullet points of his life include the fact he was married to a woman, came out of the closet, got divorced, had a child, became an alcoholic, had brushes with the law, fell in love with a psycho killer, rebuilt his life, and finally met the love of his life, a man he married five years ago in Central Park. Along the way, he delivered singing telegrams dressed in a pink gorilla suit and took a job as a naked houseboy for a gay couple living in The Pines section of Fire Island. As the latest Fire Island Firecracker, he was often photographed and came to enjoy performing in the spotlight. 

David Meulemans participated in The International Cabaret Conference at Yale University, "Cabaret Stars Of Tomorrow Yale Summer Cabaret Series," and had his New York City cabaret debut performing "Hello, New Yawk" at Don't Tell Mama. "Lucky To Be Me" debuted at The Metropolitan Room in 2015, and now, having been named an "Artist In Residence" at that prestigious cabaret club, he will be bringing "Lucky To Be Me" back to the stage for two additional performances on June 11th and September 16th, and on December 10th, he will introduce New York audiences to the premiere of a new holiday show. David is a consummate entertainer with infectious charm. You will be hard-put not to thoroughly enjoy his show, which includes such standards as "Pennies From Heaven" (Burke/Johnson), "Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries" (Brown/Henderson), "Extraordinary" (David Kent), "Nothin' But The Radio On" (Winkler/Markham), "Rhode Island Is Famous For You" (Dietz/Schwartz), "Since You Stayed Here" (Rubins/Larson), "Tchaikovsky (and other Russian) (Gershwin/Weill), "You Mustn't Feel Discouraged (Comden/Green/Styne), "Picking Up The Pieces" (Skip Kennon), "Little Things Medley" (Sondheim/Hall), "Count Your Blessings/Dream" (Irving Berlin), a medley of "Lucky" songs (my favorite line from "Luck Be A Lady" - "A lady doesn't wander around the room blowing on some other guy's dice.") and "Grateful" (John Bucchino), the encore song. 

The word that best describes this cabaret show conceived and directed by Tony-nominated actor/singer/director/teacher Sally Mayes is 'perfect" and I mean that in the sense that the show is "technically perfect" in every way. It hits all the bases and is scripted down to the last word, with no room for improvisation or adjustment. The show is a straight-jacket or a bullet train heading down the track at 100 miles per hour and you are forewarned not to try to slow it down, or speed it up for that matter. As an example, audience members encouraged David to sing "Tchaikovsky (and other Russians)" at a faster pace, but since this was not called for in the script, he simply said "No!". At another point, he asks the audience to sing along and after one line, yells "That's enough," which in some one's mind was supposed to be funny. It wasn't. Similarly, the script called for David Meulemans to come out to perform an encore, whether or not the audience demanded it. 

The patter was not very revealing and also seemed forced. For example, David explained how he needed to sing songs in 8 different languages in order to graduate from Lawrence Conservatory of Music. Those eight languages included, among others, Swahili, Mukluk (highly doubtful) and Russian. The audience was then eager to hear him sing a song in Russian. Instead, that inane introduction was simply the lead in to his singing "Tchaikovsky (and other Russians)" in English. That disconnect between patter, song introduction and the lyrics of the songs themselves was a problem that repeated itself many times.

As a cabaret show, "Lucky To Be Me" lacked substance, intimacy, and heart. It is true that songs are supposed to illustrate your life story but without more, the superficial highlights are meaningless. Specific stories and the lessons he learned from them must be told within the context of a recognizable storyline. Why did he marry a woman? Why did he have a child? How did he discover his lover was a psycho killer? What involvement did he have with the law when he was an alcoholic? Why did he give up drugs and alcohol? Did he ever live on the streets? Besides being a naked maid, was he ever available for rent? Who is the real David Meulemans? You will not get that answer seeing his current cabaret show. However, you will learn that David Meulemans is an accomplished performer who instantly wins over his audience with his bright smile and warm personality. It will be clear to you that he brings joy to the stage and lifts your spirits with his flawless singing and remarkable vocal talents. "Lucky To Be Me" is a celebration of gratitude for his having reached a point in his life when he is finally happy despite the trials and tribulations of his suspected turbulent life. 

David Meulemans will next appear in "Lucky To Be Me" on Saturday, June 11, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at The Metropolitan Room. Ticket Price: $25.00. Two Drink Minimum Required. As a special treat, all attendees will receive a free, autographed, personalized CD of the show, which was recorded live in 2015. For reservations, visit www.metropolitanroom or call 212-206-0440. For more information about David Meulemans, go to his website at 

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