by Melissa Griegel . . .
When Joe Iconis (Be More Chill, Broadway Bounty Hunter) takes the stage, buckle up because he is going to take you for a fast-paced, energetic ride. He sits down at the piano and plows through song after song, seemingly without taking a breath. As we have come to expect from this composer, lyricist, and playwright, his songs are filled with humor.
His first three songs irreverently covered topics such as entitled rich kids, red solo cups at a Halloween party, and man who hides the fact from his wife, that he is a werewolf. His lyrics, energy, and yes, werewolf howls, brought laughter and applause from the guests at Feinstein’s/54 Below on July 24th.
Iconis is known for showing up on stage with lots of friends who are part of the “Joe Iconis Family.” Although he was joined on stage with three other entertainers, and three guests who made appearances, he considered this a small group compared to his usual entourage. Joe sang and played piano throughout the evening accompanied by Marques Walls (Be More Chill, Spring Awakening) on percussion and Badia Farha (School of Rock) and Jason SweetTooth Williams (Be More Chill) providing backing vocals and solo pieces.
Farha met Iconis while they were at NYU and she sang a song that he had written when he was back at school. Jason SweetTooth Williams, who played a variety of roles in Be More Chill, also did a solo piece. Andrew Barth Feldman (Dear Evan Hansen) was one of the guest stars for the evening. Iconis explained to the crowd that fellow Long Islander Feldman played Roger in Rent in a local production that his brother Phil Iconis directed. As Feldman pointed out, it was an interesting connection on that particular night because this 9:45 pm show followed Adam Pascal’s (the original Roger in Rent) at 7 pm the same evening. Another connection that he and Iconis share is that Feldman was also in a local production of Be More Chill.
Feldman, 19, never disappoints and belts out tunes and chats with the audience in a way you would expect of an older and more seasoned performer. To everyone’s delight, another Andrew was also a guest star that evening. Andrew Rannells (Book of Mormon, Falsettos) looking dapper in his suit, sang a humorous song that belied the gentlemanly appearance. The lyrics, which started off talking about how “there’s nothing new to do in Brooklyn anymore,” ends with the song’s protagonist strangling a woman out of sheer boredom. His raucous song “Kevin” (by Joe Iconis) was greeted with a rousing round of applause.
There were clearly a lot of true fans of Iconis musicals at Feinstein’s that evening as evidenced by the enthusiastic audience participation singing along with “Tell Her About it Sheila” from Love in Hate Nation.
The biggest surprise of the night was when, for the second time, Iconis complained that his voice was a little off and asked his fellow singers to help him out. Will Roland (Dear Evan Hansen, Be More Chill) popped up from his table in the audience and said “I can sing it for you!” With enthusiasm and energy, Roland sang “Amphibian,” a funny song about being a ‘Long Island Amphibian” to uproarious laughter that ended in a standing ovation.
Joe Iconis and his ever-growing “family” are always a delight to watch. You can catch this show at Feinstein’s/54 Below on Saturday, August 7th at 9:45 pm and his “Two-Player Game” show with George Salazar for five dates in February 2022,
Photos by Melissa Griegel Photography