Cabaret Review By Brian Scott Lipton


If you’re a Broadway leading man who wants to have a good time on his night off, or maybe just display his musical versatility, then follow the lead of “If/Then” star James Snyder, who did all that – in spades – in “A First New York Holiday Road” at 54 Below on December 1. The actor’s loose-limbed, often off-the cuff was a refreshing change of pace from so many performers’ too-scripted patter, and the range of musical material gave everyone something to cheer about.

If you wanted to hear something a little familiar, no problem. After opening with a sizzling take on “What Would You Do?” (from “If/Then”), Snyder later offered gloriously legit renditions of “Fanny” (from the musical of the same name which he performed at City Center) and “If I Loved You” (from “Carousel” in which he starred at the Goodspeed Opera House), along with two selections from his Broadway debut, “Cry-Baby,” the Elvis-like “A Little Upset” and the intense duet “I’m Infected,” on which he reunited with his original co-star, Elizabeth Stanley.

Equally thrilling, the adorable Matt Doyle joined Snyder to re-create a song from the concept recording from Damon Intrabolo’s groundbreaking musical “Bare,” and Snyder did more than full justice to Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’ gorgeous ballard “Once Upon a Time.”

The actor had great fun swiveling his hips to Peter Allen’s “Not the Boy Next Door,” exchanging quips with special guest Seth Rudetsky, and had the audience in stitches with his tale of his almost-disastrous audition for the musical “Diner,” which concluded with a beautiful version of Gabriel Mann’s “When We Were One” in which he accompanied himself on piano. (He also played guitar – one borrowed at the last minute from Gibson – and harmonica.) And the holidays were not forgotten, thanks to a wrenching “Please Come Home for Christmas” and a divine encore of John Lennon’s “So This Is Christmas,” complete with an audience sing-along.

Snyder’s musical journey may have had a couple of unnecessary twists or turns, but this “Holiday Road” was definitely worth following. Maybe it can become an annual tradition.


Photo: Sandi Durell