Barbara Cook Spotlight Series: ‘Malcolm Gets: Come A Little Closer’ at The Kennedy Center

Malcolm Gets is one of the most underrated stars in musical theater today. Fortunately, he got a well-deserved chance to display his exceptional talents during his solo cabaret show, Come a Little Closer, as part of the Barbara Cook: Spotlight series at The Kennedy Center.

Malcolm Gets. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Malcolm Gets. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Malcolm Gets is a Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated actor. Some of his numerous New York stage credits include A New Brain, Merrily We Roll Along, and Finian’s Rainbow, and television credits include Richard on NBC’s Caroline in the City and Grey Gardens on HBO.

Humbly entering the stage in a crisp cream-colored suit, Gets opened the cabaret acapella with the event title song, “Come A Little Closer,” entrancing the audience with his wispy, welcoming voice and ended the number accompanying himself on the piano.

From there, Gets launched into a sort of opening monologue, welcoming the audience and providing some back story about his musical childhood. His bit about changing the types of piano music he was practicing based on which family member was around to listen at the time was absolutely hilarious, and throughout the course of the cabaret, Gets’ interjections and stories serving as transitions between song sets proved to be the highlight of the evening.  Another fantastic stylistic approach to the evening was adapting an energetic jazz rhythm to the accompaniment on several Golden Age Broadway standards.

Gets launched into a beautiful instrumental rendition of “If I Loved You” from Carousel and followed it with an old-time flippant, funny (and completely inappropriate song by today’s standards) number entitled “ Come a Little Closer” about a man who takes an obese woman as a lover and requires some…… chalk to help remember exactly where on her body he started….. well, you can imagine.

The pace of the cabaret act began dragging slightly through the next number, “Comes Once in a Lifetime.” However, the energy quickly built back up as Gets continued with a sweeping yet relaxed rendition of  the gorgeous “Sunday in New York.” The next number,  “Mrs. Remington” was a fantastic story song from The Story of My Life, a Broadway musical that had a short run, and displayed Gets’ excellent ability to deeply emotionally connect with the audience and show off some fantastic impersonations. Gets was accompanied on this set by the very talented musical director and pianist, Alex Rybeck.

The lighting for the cabaret was phenomenal and fluctuated between warm red and orange glows to mellow yellow and blue tones, varying to nicely match the mood of each song. Graciously, since it is traditionally a solo cabaret series, Gets shared the stage with dynamic musical brother duo Josh and Zach Page. The brothers, a vocalist and guitarist, respectively, joined Gets for James Taylor’s “Something in the Way He Moves” and a stellar, harmonically intricate version of “House at Pooh Corner.” The aforementioned song gathered a visible response from many audience members who were moved by the beautiful moment.

After another hilarious transitional story about his days playing as a pianist for various catering events, Gets continued to accompany himself on a lovely and very challenging arrangement of Sondheim’s “Another Hundred People/ So Many People.”

As Gets described, once entering into the “home stretch” of the cabaret, the next songs featured were wonderful. An extremely entertaining rendition of “Caveman” followed, a hilariously witty uptempo number about a caveman unsure how to tell his primitive family that he is homosexual and prefers cave painting and leopard skin clothing over hunting. A swinging jazz arrangement of “It’s A Fine Life” was  an extremely fine finale for the fantastic cabaret.

Ending the evening with an encore, Gets performed the title song from The Sound of Music. With a simplified accompaniment featuring light chords, it was a sincere and heartfelt moment allowing Gets to do what he does best: let his emotions take center stage.

Running Time: 1 hour, with no intermission.

Malcolm Gets: Come A Little Closer was performed as part of the Barbara Cook’s Spotlight series on Friday, March 27, 2015 at The Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater- 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For future events, go to their performance calendar..

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