by Joe Regan Jr.
Frans Bloem, who was inducted into the Metropolitan Room Hall of Fame a few months ago, returned on May 26 to present his show “Beyond Borders.” His wonderful music director was Steve Sandberg. Dressed in a black suit with a red scarf, Bloem is one of the most animated performers in cabaret, as he danced energetically all over the stage. There was a large full length screen to the left of the stage and it was utilized very specifically later.
Bloem, who has specialized in the songs of Charles Aznavour, opened with an energetic “Je Chante” sung in both French and English. He talked about his growing up in Amsterdam, the city of 88 canals and sang Peter Schoft’s “Amerstamse Grachten.” He then spoke about going to Paris at the age of 19 and getting a job in “the oldest profession,” dish-washing, in a restaurant. At night, after the restaurant closed, he would sing on the street with the other Bohemians in Montmartre, a natural blend into Aznavour’s “La Boheme.”
He told about hitchhiking in the United States and meeting a long haired truck driver who drove him across country, singing a beautiful “Nature Boy” which melded into “Padam Padam,” the audience singing along with him. Then he did a heart-breaking “In A Very Unusual Way” from Nine by Maury Yeston.
Bloem discussed his moments of despair…having his apartment flooded by Hurricane Sandy and, most recently, riding his bicycle and hitting a grate and losing half his teeth. After someone helped him get to a hospital, he expressed his gratitude and his advice to the crowd with “You’ll Never Walk Alone” mixed with David Friedman’s “Help Is On the Way;” a rendition that brought tears to many in the audience.
Craig Carnelia’s “I Met A Man Today” was an expression of Bloem’s seeing a man he might fall in love with if he weren’t afraid about being rejected. It was immediately followed by a story about how, on a date with his best friend and a new acquaintance, he was suddenly the third wheel at the table. This was humorously and sadly expressed in Aznavour’s “And I In My Chair.”
Bloem was expecting a surprise guest Marlene and ran off stage to leave Sandberg to sing a song in Portuguese! When Bloem returned, he was in full Marlene Dietrich drag, blonde wig, red lipstick, heavy eye makeup. He sang “Falling In Love Again,” in both English and German. That was followed by Aznavour’s “What Makes A Man,” a song about the man who takes care of his mother and then goes out and works in a straight club as a female impersonator. Bloem does a lot of benefits on behalf of the Trans Gendered in all the capitols of Europe and at the Shelter Theatre in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Bloem then went behind the big screen and stripped out of the drag outfit and came back in black pants, red shoes, and a white tuxedo jacket leaving his chest bare. He burst into Eva Tanguay’s famous number “I Don’t Care” announcing it was another one of his life philosophies and getting the room to shout back “I don‘t care“ when he gave them the signal!
His penultimate numbers were “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” and Irving Berlin’s “What’ll I Do.”
Bloom will be performing in July and August in Holland and in September at the Galeria and Shelter Theater in San Miguel. He will return to the Metropolitan Room in October with a new show. His website is www.fransbloem.com
Reservations: 212 206-0440
Steve Sandberg will perform with Ray Marchica and Nina Hennessey at Birdland on Sunday, June 5 at 6 PM.