Stephen Gregory Smith is in love, and he wants the world (or at least cabaret audiences to know it). In his poignant cabaret called Naked, which is part of Signature Theater’s ‘Sizzlin’ Summer Cabaret’ series, Smith (who has been in countless Signature shows – included most recently, The Boy Detective Fails, Hairspray and Brother Russia) showed his romantic side. He unabashedly shared his love and history with his now fiancé, fellow Signature musical theater favorite, Matt Conner.
Smith used the provocatively clever device of telling his winning love story through a series of shirt changes, each representing a particular phase in his life and romance. Between his often exposed torso and his torn blue jeans, he oozed sex appeal, to the delight of many in the audience. The Smith-Connor love story started at Shenandoah University – where the two met and we learn the socially awkward Smith was smitten for years before the relationship turned from friendship to romantic- and made it way to the DC area and to their “on again-off again-on for good again” musical and personal collaborations.
Smith interjeced his story with acoustic versions of contemporaneous pop songs that aptly capturd the emotions he was describing. Four of the songs were from the lyrical Indigo Girls, including “Land of Canaan” and “The Language or the Kiss.” The remainder was a mixture of rock power ballads (such as Cheap Trick’s “The Flame” and Patti Smith’s “Because the Night”) and ninety’s love songs like Alanis Morissette’s “Head Over Feet” and Paula Abdul’s “Rush Rush.” Smith was accompanied on back-up vocals by the sultry Karissa Swannigan and by talented guitarist Steven Walker.Smith and Swannigan did bang-up duet with the Civil Wars’ “Barton Hollow.” Smith’s vocals, while consistent throughout, were especially impressive in his encore, Adele’s “One and Only.
Stephen Gregory Smith is a fine singer and chose some great musical selections for this non-Broadway themed cabaret. The songs really captured the feeling of being in love – the joy (Amy Whinehouse’s “Valerie” and the Beatle’s “Here, There and Everywhere”) and the questioning (Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough”). His humility and self-confessed dorkiness added to his charm. The love story he shared in this cabaret was especially appealing as many in the audience know (or know of) these guys through their solid musical theater work and their longtime relationship with Signature. One cannot help to share in his joy as he told their story. This truly enjoyable musical performance within the ‘Sizzlin’ Summer Cabaret’ series was a wonderful way to celebrate this fine romance.
Running Time: 90 minutes.
Stephen Gregory Smith – Naked was a one-night only performance on July 20, 2012 at Signature Theatre – 4200 Campbell Avenue, in Arlington, VA. Purchase tickets for the remainder of Signature’s ‘Sizzlin’ Summer Cabarets’ here, or call the box office at (703) 820-9771.