Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009 | 2 a.m.
If You Go
- What: Rick Faugno’s “Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced)”
- When: 3 p.m. Sept. 20
- Where: South Point
- Tickets: $20 to $30; 797-8055, (866) 796-7111 or southpointcasino.com
In Today's Sun
Three “Jersey Boys” step out of character and off their Palazzo stage, appearing around town in solo showcases and benefit revues. You won’t hear any Four Seasons hits from Rick Faugno, Travis Cloer and Erich Bergen — they are contractually prohibited from performing any tunes from the musical. That frees up these actor-singer-dancers to show Las Vegas who they are outside of their scripted and tightly choreographed stage roles.
In his solo show at the South Point showroom Sunday, Rick Faugno thanked his audience “for not just thinking that I’m Frankie Valli.”
Calling his 70-minute program “Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced),” Faugno, who plays the lead role in “Jersey Boys” at the Palazzo, chose each number to acknowledge the artistic influence of heroes, family and mentors.
“Yeah, I’m a real Jersey Boy — minus the accent,” said Faugno, a dapperly dressed, wide-eyed wiseguy who styles himself as a “song and dance man.” Trained extensively in jazz, tap and ballet, with the compact muscularity of a young Gene Kelly, Faugno’s ability to express emotion with motion is what set this solo showcase apart, as when he freewheeled through a daydreamy dance sequence set to “All I Need Is the Girl.”
Favoring songs of a certain vintage, Faugno’s approach to standards is sincere and contemporary rather than retro-ironic. Accompanied by seven musicians, including a horn trio and pianist Keith Thompson, Faugno tipped his fedora to Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis Jr. and busted out just a bit of that Valli-esque falsetto at the apex of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
“Songs My Idols Sang” follows a how-I-got-here structure, interspersing songs with family photos and earnest motivational-speaker narration. If he develops this show further, Faugno might polish his patter and focus on conveying a singular persona. A second show has been scheduled for Sept. 20.
It was a real pleasure to hear more from Travis Cloer, who alternates in the role of Valli in “Jersey Boys.” An ardently emotional balladeer with a sweet tooth for jazz, Cloer was one of the clear standouts in a jam-packed (one might even say overstuffed) benefit cabaret performance at the Liberace Museum last Wednesday. Cloer delivered openhearted solos on the lovelorn “December Without You” (written by “Jersey” co-star Erich Bergen) and slow-burning “That’s All.”
Cloer has released a CD called “Setting the Standard” (he’s also got a Christmas CD); and he’s also in the lineup of Strip performers who will perform original work at 10:30 p.m. Thursday at the much-recommended monthly Composers’ Showcase at the Liberace Museum.
Back in March, Erich Bergen, who plays Four Seasons’ songwriter Bob Gaudio, generated a lot of buzz when he produced and starred in his own solo showcase, spotlighting his songwriting and debonair command of the stage.
On Saturday, Bergen is coproducing and hosting a big Vegas tribute show to Michael Jackson at 3 p.m. in The Pearl at the Palms (see story below). Bergen is a lifelong admirer of Jackson’s, and his contribution is sure to be heartfelt and memorable.