- Talent, showmanship, and charm—Rob McClure has it all, and he brings it all to Feinstein’s/54 Below with Rob McClure: Smile, his premiere solo concert in New York City. The pride of New Jersey (where he was born and raised), Philadelphia (where he lives), and Broadway (where he’s currently appearing as Nick Bottom in Something Rotten!) looks back on his life in show biz through 90 minutes of meaningful songs and personal anecdotes that will keep you smiling.
From his earliest childhood reminiscences in “Mr. Rogers Medley” (a selection of kids’ songs by Fred Rogers) and “On the Way to Cape May” (music and lyrics by Maurice ‘Buddy’ Nugent), through being bitten by the acting bug as a teen and his abiding passion for the Big Apple (Rodgers & Hart’s “Manhattan”), to an encore paean to his Tony-nominated lead role in Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin’s eponymous “Smile”), McClure doesn’t just sing—which he does very well–but engages.
He fills his show with feelings and fun, sharing his old-fashioned love of witty rhymes and irresistible rhythms (along with Rogers & Hart, Sondheim is a favorite), showing off his wrist tattoo of Chaplin’s hat and mustache, and revealing some tender moments in his relationship with his wife, fellow actor Maggie Lakis (accompanying himself on ukulele in the song she wrote for him, “Kiss Your Worries Away”).
The delightful and gracious McClure is joined on stage for a few of the numbers by an impressive roster of special guests who’ve been important friends and colleagues in his career. Matthew Scott, a buddy since they were budding stars in their teen years, delivers powerhouse vocals on “Johanna” and in a duet with McClure on “Pretty Women” and Chaplin’s Jenn Colella brings her strong voice and perfect harmony to their rendition of “It Takes Two” (all three songs with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim).
Puppets Nicky and Rod, and actors/puppeteers Jennifer Barnhart and Rick Lyon, with whom McClure performed in Avenue Q, add humor to “It’s Not Easy Being Green” (music and lyrics by Joe Raposo) and a “Leading Ladies Medley” of iconic show tunes, arranged by McClure and Musical Director James Sampliner.
All of the fully orchestrated songs are infused with a jazz beat and interspersed with masterful instrumental solos. Backed by a top-notch six-piece band—Dan Berkery on drums, Alex Eckhardt on bass, Jami Dauber on trumpet, Ben Kono on reeds, Clint Sharman on trombone, and Sampliner, who not only provided the musical arrangements, but also contributes some comical banter, on piano—McClure’s up-tempo rendition of Jason Robert Brown’s “I Love Betsy” is a crowd-pleaser and the show-stopper of the evening, in an evening that you won’t want to stop.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission.
Rob McClure Smile has one more performance today – July 2, 2016 at 7 PM, at Feinstein’s/54 Below – 254 West 54th Street, Cellar, in NYC. For tickets, call the box office at (646) 476-3551, or purchase them online.