by Peter Haas
Ron Dabney knew, at age 5, that wanted to be a performer. Dancing with his shadow in his Georgia back yard; he continued to dance in boarding school; went on to tour and teach internationally, and to work with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and the Dance Theater of Harlem. In 1991, his dancing days ended when his car collided with a tree, and his right ankle was crushed. Transitioning to, and eventually concluding, a working life in business and government, he embarked on a new career: singing – which brought him, over the past several years, to annual engagements at the Metropolitan Room. The most recent one: this past May, in a rich evening of theater songs, under the banner, “Oh Broadway, My Broadway.”
With backup by the Barry Levitt Jazz Ensemble, Ron began by lending his smoky voice and warm heart to such favorites as “Embraceable You,” “Lazy Afternoon,” “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good,” “Do It Again” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face.”
Midway through the show, Ron invited a guest to the stage: counter-tenor Derek Lee Ragin, who performed the Vincent Youmans classic, “Without a Song,” with Ron then joining him to provide a powerful duet. The two joined forces once again on a moving performance of Jerry Herman’s “Time Heals Everything” — .and the audience cheered. The pairing, and the response, seemed to give Ron new strength and sureness.
In his show’s second half, solo again, he topped himself as he delivered such popular numbers as “Not a Day Goes By,” “Don’t Explain,”Billie Holiday’s “Fine and Mellow,” an almost heartbreaking “Send In the Clowns,” and, formally concluding the show, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “I Have Dreamed.” His encore :“ Tomorrow” – greeted with stand-up applause.
Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22 Street, 212 206-0440