It’s been a while since I reviewed an album, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to shout out how much I love Zachary James’ new digital release, On Broadway.
James has performed all over the world as an opera singer, and stage and screen actor. Now, at a time when live performances are halted and many of us crave theatre so so badly, James comes to the rescue! He recorded his award-winning cabaret show without an audience Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia for all of us to enjoy while we patiently wait to see something in person again. Accompanied by Broadway pianist Charity Wicks on the 15th tracks, this live album brings his one-man show straight to your ears.
As a huge live theatre fan, I personally enjoy content like On Broadway because the audience really has a chance to get to know the person behind the microphone. Rather than just hearing a selection of songs from a performer’s list of credits, you get a rare opportunity to hear why these songs are being sung. James relives his favorite stage moments and tells the audience a little about himself through the evening’s setlist. On Broadway is a great way to get to know what roles really make him shine.
A few songs really stood out for me. I loved his enthusiasm as he reminisces about his time at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope and segues into “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma (a show he was a part of that season). A smile never left my face as I listened to his journey to gaining an equity card and eventually landing a spot in the Tony-winning Broadway revival of South Pacific. I had another smile when hearing about the process and hard work leading to opening The Addams Family on Broadway in the role of Lurch (and alongside Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane). And finally, when James sang “No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods, I had to pause and give myself a moment. Just wow. His voice is amazing and the song choices for On Broadway are as well. But, the stories provide depth to the tracks and make you appreciate this album even more.
If none of that has sold you yet, I promise “Over the Rainbow” will.
If you happen upon this review before March 31st, 2021, I highly suggest taking the On Broadway experience a step further by checking out the filmed version of the show. On Broadway at Chriss’ Jazz Cafe is available to stream through the 31st exclusively on Des Moines Metro Opera’s website as part of their 2021 virtual season. Tickets are $25 per screen. Grab a comfy couch, a warm blanket and prepare to be charmed as you’re front and center to witness why this cabaret show once won four awards from Broadway World, including Vocalist of the Decade and Performer of the Decade. James previously performed the show to audiences in Hawaii, Alaska, New York, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Florida, to name a few. But now, he’s coming to your home and making your living room the best place to be.
On Broadway delivered a big dose of what I’ve been missing- voices, stories, and especially showtunes. James’ version of the iconic song “On Broadway” kicks off the show, and while none of us actually can be on Broadway right now, this performance and his hopeful voice remind us that we’ll all be back soon. For more info on Zachary James, visit www.zachjames.com. On Broadway, the album, is available digitally across many streaming platforms.