BRIAN ALEJANDRO’S “Lovers & Strangers” at Pangea: A Review

The first song in Lord Brian Alejandro’s dazzling one-man show Lovers & Strangers was the eternal hit This Could Be the Start of Something Big, which has been done by the likes of such heavy hitters as Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Darin, and… Steve & Eydie!  For the audience at New York City’s Pangea on Saturday, February 11th, this would turn out to be a prophetic choice of song.  (In honor of the venue, the singer cleverly changed the “Sardi’s” in the famous lyrics to “Pangea“!)  How many times have we heard that old bit of wisdom, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression?”  Well, let’s just say that this dynamic performer more than fulfilled his promise to any new fans in attendance that night.  During his initial entrance to the stage, Brian weaved throughout the sold-out crowd, giving many lucky audience members the feeling that he was singing just for them that evening.  Barely five minutes into the show, this Lord’s joy of performing had already come through in many ways, including body language and eye contact.  It may seem rote to say that a performer smiles with their eyes, but this is one entertainer who has “smizing”, as the kids say, down to an advanced art form.  With Brian Alejandro dressed in a tuxedo and adorned with red sequins, we got the feeling that this musical appetizer for Valentine’s Day would be more “penthouse and champagne” than “motel and six pack”…

Brian Alejandro’s elegant style, imbued with a few shots of cheeky humor, evokes a more romanticized era of live entertainment: one that’s lushly vintage yet timelessly transgenerational.  After all, a class act never goes out of fashion.  Indeed, this singer has fun with his own unique, highly stylized image.  But of course, darling (As Brian would say…), stage persona doesn’t mean much without that little thing called “talent”. Some of Brian’s musical selections, such as In the Wee Small Hours, I Wish You Love, and That Old Black Magic, may have familiar lyrics… but his new takes on them are most decidedly NOT based on previous renditions.  At the risk of sounding like a cliched reviewer, this is a performer who makes every song his own.  Brian also sings the hell out of each of those songs, especially such scorchers as Bacharach’s Whoever You are, I Love You and his dreamlike rendition of In the Wee Small Hours.  His voice is robust and seductive.  He shows an impressive range, often displaying that wide range throughout the course of a single song.  He can indeed hold those challenging notes, one of my favorite examples being when he did the last line of Promises, Promises: “Yes, LOVE………!” And if you have any doubt that Mr. Alejandro knows how to sing about that LOVE, wait until you hear his breathtakingly lovely version of Natalie Cole’s Inseparable

As mentioned before, Brian gave his own versions of many familiar hits, including many tunes from Broadway shows and the eternal Nat King Cole classic L-O-V-E (Was Made for Me and You), for which he invited the audience to join in. In addition, the singer chose some musical baubles just waiting to be heard again. One of them was Moonraker, a song from the soundtrack for the James Bond film of the same name. The song was brought to life by Shirley Bassey.  Brian more than did the song justice, giving a fine example of that aforementioned impressive range of notes.  Another came with Come Live with Me, which fans of the 1967 movie Valley of The Dolls (like me!) will recognize as the theme for tragic love, as sung by the movie’s tragic sex symbol Tony Polar (played by Tony Scotti).  But the most delicious of these rare tracks had to be the irreplicable, instantly recognizable theme from… The Love Boat! Inspired by the singer’s trip to Mykonos, it was a campy delight– and it became a singalong as well.

Mr. Alejandro has indeed created a one-of-a-kind stage character, but make no mistake: The performer underneath that tuxedo and red sequins is indeed a showbiz veteran with many fun stories to tell, both about the famous people he’s met and those who inspired him.  It was fantastic to be there while he honored such unsung showbiz heroes as Nell Carter via song (In this case, Mean to Me, from Ain’t Misbehavin’).  Peppered in between the music and stories were his idiosyncratic (and often very funny) views on that crazy little thing called L-O-V-E.  This was, after all, three days before V. Day…  Lest we forget, there was his rapport with Darnell White, his Musical Director and hard-working (Some would say “long-suffering”!) pianist for the night.  Their playful give-and-take was just as much a part of the show as Brian’s selections of songs or his eye-popping wardrobe. Hell, Darnell even gets to sing a song: appropriately, that song was Lush Life!

When Brian purred, “I wanted to make sure you got your money’s worth!” before giving the crowd the closing number, Dusty Springfield’s You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, it turned out to be yet another promise fulfilled– and then some! And yes, there was indeed an encore. I won’t reveal what it was, but I will say that Brian Alejandro’s Lovers & Strangers is the perfect show for lovers, strangers and everyone in between, whether you prefer your L-O-V-E by day or by night…

Visit Brian Alejandro’s YouTube channel at Lord Brian Alejandro Scott – YouTube

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