Cabaret Features and Commentary by Stephen Hanks
Patti LuPone. Jackie Hoffman. Brian d'Arcy James. Rebecca Lukor. Ben Vereen. Joe Iconis.
No, the above list is not like one of those "which one does not belong" questions you had to answer on school tests. Joe Iconisdoes belong with those marquee names that have performed during the opening months of the spanking new 54 Below, which has been christened as "Broadway's Nightclub," but could also be called a cool cabaret room on steroids. The only difference between Iconis and those A-list entertainers is that they have all starred on Broadway, while Iconis wants to make it to Broadway as the composer and/or lyricist and/or book writer of a great big Broadway show. And you know what, he's gonna make it there. Trust me.
But before Joe Iconis gets his Tony nomination, he's going to be making a few stops along the way. Tonight's way station is a one-show gig at 54 Below (at 9:30), where he and his troupe of musical theater minstrels, known as "The Family," will continue their "Nature of the Beasts Tour 2012," which recently packed the Laurie Beechman a few blocks south for two shows. Iconis and The Family are planning to perform 19 "greatest hits" out of his catalog of musical theater, rock, and pop songs that is now at around 150 and climbing. The other day on his personal Facebook page, Iconis shared the story of how the organizers of a London concert cut off the power on Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen while they were singing "Twist and Shout" because they "went over curfew." Iconis commented: "Suddenly terrified about what will happen if we blow past our curfew at 54 Below." The audience at tonight's show should only be so lucky Joe plays overtime. (Tonight's "Family" cast list at end of story.)
If you haven't heard of Joe Iconis, as tonight's special guest Broadway actress/singer Annie Golden (who has appeared in three separate versions of Hair) says, "What're they living under a rock or somethin'? Iconis may not have won a Tony or a Grammy or even an Obie-yet-but during the last six years this son of Italian parents on Long Island has been one of the most prolific musical theater songwriters around, and captured his share of prizes in the process. After graduating from the NYU Graduate Musical Theatre Program, he received a 2006 Jonathan Larson Award, a 2006 Daryl Roth Award (for his musical Plastic, written with fellow NYU grad Robert Maddock), the 2007 Ed Kleban Award (as most promising lyricist), 2007 Backstage Bistro and Nightlife Awards (for the Lorinda Lisitza cabaret show Triumphant Baby, songs also written with Maddock), a 2010 MAC/John Wallowich Award, and his "Rock 'n Roll Spaghetti Western" Bloodsong of Love earned three Drama Desk Award nominations for book, music, and featured actor (for "Family" member Jeremy Morse). (Please click on Page 2 to continue.)