Ace In The Hole!
by Lisa Joy Reitman-Dobi
The email from Theater Pizzazz listed shows in need of coverage at the Metropolitan Room. Scrolling down, I spotted Charlie Poveromo, August 10 at 7 PM. “He’s young and in the Sinatra spirit.” I signed on.
A couple of days before the show, I panicked. Apparently, Charlie’s repertoire included songs by Bobby Darin. Let me be clear: I adore Bobby Darin. His voice is part of my soul. I was born decades too late; I would have married this man. “Beyond the Sea” sung by anyone else would kill me. I couldn’t bear it. I’d cry.
I steeled myself and went. Microphone in hand, Charlie entered the room singing “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” He sauntered toward the stage with the ease and poise of Dean Martin himself, and a voice to match. My anxiety vanished. Charlie’s delivery of “That’s Life” left me astonished. The Chairman of the Board himself would have tipped his hat. It was the third number that derailed my meticulous notes. Charlie took a step onto sacred ground: Darin’s classic, “As Long As I’m Singing.” All bets were off. Over a couple of bridges, I’d gone from trepidation to exhilaration.
The fact is, I did cry. When I heard the opening notes of “Beyond the Sea,” I closed my eyes and found myself in a dream: I was hearing Bobby Darin live. Brilliance that touches the soul can, apparently, result in tears of joy. Take note that this was the reaction of someone who is fiercely protective of her precious songs.
Stalwart fans of Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Tony Bennet and Elvis Presley, you’ve been blessed.
“Are You Lonesome Tonight?” was as transporting as the King’s original version. It was infused with Presley’s signature seductive panache. Charlie’s rich knowledge of these singers’ careers added yet another wonderful dimension to the evening. Apparently, Presley reluctantly recorded this song to please his manager’s wife. The result: Double Platinum. The lesson: pleasing the wife is wise.
From “Let Me Try Again,” written by Paul Anka and made popular by Frank Sinatra, to Darin’s rockin’ “Splish Splash,” to that 1957 doo-wop hit “Goody Goody,” every selection was a hit all over again. I have no words to describe the thrill of hearing “Rags to Riches.” Charlie’s selections were consistently individuated, rich and deliciously imbued with each artist’s memorable monikers.
Among the picks from Bobby Darin’s live recording at the Copa in the summer of 1960 were: “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Clementine,” and a smashing “Mack the Knife,” replete with Darin’s trademark introduction and delivered with delectably perfect rendition. Both singers closed their sets with the exquisite, funny and ever-apropos, “That’s All.”
Let me add that we were treated to an encore: “Lazy River.” Of course, we wanted an encore to the encore, but we controlled ourselves. Barely.
Charlie Poveromo at the Metropolitan Room in 2016 and Bobby Darin at the Copa in 1960 shared more than several treasured songs. Remarkably, and inevitably, both performers were backed by the incomparable Ronnie Zito on drums: 60-odd years apart, and without missing a beat.
Charlie was backed by the illustrious Barry Levitt Quartet, led by Musical Director, Barry Levitt, on piano, Jeff Carney on bass, Jack Cavari on guitar and Ronnie Zito on drums. This top- tier ensemble features Sinatra’s own guitarist, Bobby Darin’s drummer, Barbra Streisand’s bassist, and the renowned Barry Levitt who has worked with dozens of top artists, among them, Eartha Kitt, Judy Collins and Ben Vereen.
I’ve seen impressive cover bands and stunning –hilarious- impersonations. I’ve been amazed by a fellow whose Etta James was outstanding. Charlie Poveromo does something entirely different: he turns back the clock. He doesn’t imitate. He embodies. He doesn’t perform “as.” He “is.” In fact, Charlie is a kindred spirit among the performers he adores. He brings back the romance, flair, subtlety, longing, and vigor of the music that played through a smoky, satiny generation of courtship, clubbing and cutting the rug. At 20 years old, this prodigious talent indisputably channels the heart, soul and sound of these cherished legends.
Without a doubt, The Best is Yet to Come.
Charlie Poveromo and the Barry Levitt Quartet are slated to perform at the Metropolitan Room (34 West 22 Street) 212 206-0440 on Wednesday, September 14 at 9:30 pm and on Sunday, November 13 at 4 pm.