A life dedicated to musical theater crammed into an autobiographical cabaret
Al Tulane in “Act of a Lifetime—Cheaper than Therapy!”
By Joel Benjamin
Alan Tulin is an exceptionally pleasant man with a pleasant personality. Even when he dons his jazzier showbiz alter-ego, Al Tulane, he avoids unpleasant, Vegas-y overkill. Tulin is also handsome, dapper, and in possession of a good, strong voice.
However, despite spending a great deal of his show talking about his many boyfriends and sexual exploits (some explicitly related as in his own song “I Can’t Believe I’m Dating a Priest”), there wasn’t very much actual passion in his interpretations. He certainly has a command of the craft of singing, understands the lyrics and is amiable company, but nothing awful or painful or passionate registers in his performance style, which is smooth, friendly and intimate.
The song list of Cheaper than Therapy was keyed to Tulin’s life story, a story that found its focus after he saw a production of The Music Man at the Paper Mill Playhouse as a child. From that point on he resolved to be in musicals and achieved his goal with not very much effort—at least according to his easygoing account of his rise up the ladder of success. “On the Other Side of the Tracks” (Coleman/Leigh) expressed his hankering to be a performer while the bittersweet “Autumn” (Shire/Maltby) became an admission of the pain his thoughtless father inflicted on him.
His lack of talent in his phys-ed class and his feelings of rejection were amusingly relayed in “Last One Picked” (Dick Gallagher/Mark Waldrop) from one of the musicals he appeared in, Howard Crabtree’s Whoop Dee Doo. However, being cast in his high school musical was another revelation, finding that his dreams could be fulfilled. “This Is My Moment” (Frank Wildhorn), to which Mr. Tulin added his own lyrics, became his audition song.
Mr. Tulin has had an extremely varied and successful career taking him from summer stock to New York cabaret to off-Broadway, with a lucrative stop at providing voices for commercials and on to his current position as a teacher at a prestigious prep school in NYC. Throughout it all he harbored an obsession to meet Jerry Herman, which he finally did: cue “Before the Parade Passes By”!
Further honoring Herman, Tulin’s encore was a sweetly sung “Song On the Sand” from La Cage aux Folles, providing a finale to his—dare I say it?—pleasant act.
Christopher Howatt was the good-humored music director and pianist.
Al Tulane in An Act of a Lifetime—Cheaper Than Therapy (December 18, 2015)
Don’t Tell Mama
343 West 46th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues
New York, NY
For tickets call 212-757-0788 or visit www.don’ttellmamanyc.com