Actor/Singer Bernard Dotson Brings Rollicking Unexpected Songs to Sterling's
Highlights of the 75 minute set include "It's a Miracle", in full rockin' swing - it really brought the house into rhythmical hand-clapping unison. There follows a fun Disney medley: "I Wanna Be Like You", "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", "I'm Late" and "It's a Small World". Dotson is delightful in his display of comedic charm as he talks about the Tokyo reception of the Disney show and does a sensational comedy turn on "Part of Your World" in which he, his way, became part of the 'black' world of entertainers. Following this there's a rousing "New York City Rhythm" and a 7 number, what Dotson calls, an obligatory Broadway section to include the shows he did: Ragtime, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chicago, Sweet Smell of Success, Chess and several workshops of the new Tony winning Beautiful. Standout renditions are his "Laughing All the Way to the Bank" from Sweet Smell of Success - that he recorded on the cast album, a great salute to Marvin Hamlisch with "Fallin" and "They're Playing Our Song" from the 1979 show of the same name - which premiered at the Music Centre here when Dotson was an usher - and a stellar duet with Jeannie Montana on "I Know Him So Well" from Chess. "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling", the Righteous Brothers song that Dotson sang in workshops of Beautiful is dynamically rendered together with Negron, in very fine voice. There's also a fab duet with Connie Jackson "Love Me/Don't" from Smokey Joe's Cafe and the piece de resistance "Mr. Bojangles" where Dotson gets to display some lovely graceful moves as well as a delightfully powerful vocal performance of the song in salute to his idol Sammy Davis Jr. There's a poignant "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" as finale and as encore Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Unexpected Song", which fills out the title of Dotson's show.
CABARET review - Bernard Dotson
Reviewed by Don Grigware
On Sunday June 29 handsome singer Bernard Dotson brought his unique friendly style and self-proclaimed big black man powerhouse voice to an SRO crowd at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal with his debut cabaret show Unexpected Songs, which recently played the Metropolitan Room in New York. This very talented Los Angeles-born man has a passion for the arts that stretches back 18 years when he was singing for Disney Cruises and eventually in 6 different Broadway shows.
Unexpected Songs covers Dotson's journey throughout his career with great showmanship, accompanied by a 4 piece band and 2 backup singers. Dotson expressed how happy he is to be doing this kind of show - it's been a dream of his for years - and how he wishes to expand it into two hours with costumes, props and more special guests. As is, it's a whole lot of musical fun. Musical director par excellence Tracy Stark leads the terrific combo with Terry Wollman on guitar, Ricky Taylor on bass and Johnny Friday on drums. Strong singers Connie Jackson and Jeannie Montana serve as backup and guest soloists. There is also a special appearance by Broadway singer Rick Negron, who joins Dotson onstage for a rousing duet.
Bernard Dotson “Live” at the Metropolitan Room, February 3, 2014
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited
Any doubt that Bernard Dotson is an intriguing multi-talented performer is soon dismissed after seeing his new energy packed show which debuted at the Metropolitan Room and will soon take flight around the country. “I don’t know how to begin/ To let myself let you in” are the opening lyrics heard from an offstage voice and will soon prove to be an ironic and mistermed phrase as the evening wears on and Mr. Dotson shows his ownership of the stage. His presence, poise, voice and honesty provide proof of a first rate entertainer and contribute to his ability to captivate an audience with charm. His journey which brings him to this time and place is revealed throughout and shows evidence of gratitude and humility, coinciding with interest and humor. Mr. Dotson gets up close and personal with his choice of songs and stories but never forces a feeling or emotional connection to the material and sheds any inhibitions to reveal himself to the audience. His vocals are precise, clear, bold and pure, along with lyrics delivered with humor, romance or sentimentality.
The eclectic evening of song is filled with pop standards, Broadway and even an hysterical Disney medley recollecting his performance gig at Disney Tokyo. Mr. Dotson rocks the house with a Barry Manilow staple “It’s a Miracle” and croons “All I Care About Is Love” from “Chicago” (John Kander/Fred Ebb). A highlight of the show is his interpretation of “Mr. Bojangles” (Jerry Jeff Walker) spotlighting inventive phrasing and reassuring the fact that you are watching a Broadway actor hone his craft, which is also all too evident in his rendition of “Fallin.” It is a rare occasion when a cabaret audience witnesses a Broadway actor recreate a song he originated on the stage. When Mr. Dotson belts out “Make Them Hear You” from “Ragtime” (Stephen Flaherty/Lynn Ahrens), you are immediately transported to that important time and place in his career as he takes you there with him. It is one powerful moment that is surely a gift.
The evening is enhanced by the accompanying musicians Skip Ward on Bass, Peter Calo on Guitar, David Silliman on Drums, and Musical Director Tracy Stark on Piano. Marya Grandy and Jeanne Montano support with backup vocals and duets, while Matt Heimer turns in a great rendition of “Lovin Feelin” (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Phil Spector) with Mr. Dotson. Bernard Dotson will return to the Metropolitan Room on Wednesday April 16, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. The reader should consider this a not-to-be-missed event.
Live at the Metropolitan Room, November 10, 2013
By Stephen Hanks for BroadwayWorld.com
Of all the shows I attended this past year, the audience at Bernard Dotson's one-off show at the room (it will become a two-off when he appears at the Met Room again on February 3 at 7pm) might win the prize for the being the largest and most enthusiastic. In the past decade and a half, Dotson has appeared in the ensemble of six Broadway Musicals, including Chicago (and he once stood in for Usher as Billy Flynn), and he has cut a wide swath in the friendship department. It felt like every one of them was there for this show and they were cheering raucously the moment his name was announced and he bounced and boogied through the audience singing a few bars of Barry Manilow's "You Could Show Me How." Dotson showed them how all right, proving throughout an energetic and entertaining show that the audience ardor was justified. With his warm personality, infectious smile, strong baritone, and obvious love for performing, Dotson displayed the potential that could make him one of New York's strongest male cabaret performers during a time when there is a definite dearth in that category. While the theme of his show was simply an autobiographical journey recounting his experiences in the entertainment biz thus far (born in LA, he traveled the world early in his career singing Walt Disney film and show tunes), Dotson's ease at on-stage storytelling and keen sense of humor made it an enjoyable trip. With a terrific band featuring Tracy Stark as Musical Director/Pianist,Skip Ward on bass, Peter Calo on guitar, and Dave Silliman on drums, Dotson delivered the goods the entire set. "It's truly a miracle I'm here, because I've been waiting to do this a long time," he admitted after belting Manilow's "It's a Miracle," getting cool backup singing from theater friends Jeanne Montano and Marya Grandy. His Disney section featured a medley that included singing part of "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" in Japanese, doing a playful rap on oodles of Disney character names, and turning "Part of Your World," from The Little Mermaid into a fun parody: "I want to be part of Black world." His audience ate it up. Dotson's strongest work during the rest of the show came on a soaring version of "Make Them Hear You," from Ragtime, and on a powerful duet with Eric Michael Gillett on The Righteous Brothers' hit "You Got That Lovin' Feeling." But the show's stunning highlight was the number that Dotson aced during the 2012 Rat Pack revue, Boys Night Out (with Tom Gamblinand Danny Bolero), a superb take on a fine arrangement of "Mr. Bojangles" that would have made Sammy Davis, Jr.'s glass eye pop out. Starting the song with a huge smile of remembrance, Dotson grew wistful and melancholy, while also conveying through languid movement and heartfelt vocals the joy and love he felt for the character he was singing about. If Mr. Dotson decides to offer this show more than once in 2014, we could have a MAC Award nominee--if not a winner--in our future.
BROADWAY ON 22nd STREET
Although it is difficult (and perhaps unnecessary) to single out any performer among these captivating and engaging performances, this critic was especially appreciative of Romelda Teron Benjamin’s and Jared Joseph’s phrasing and rich tones; Gabriel Croom’s swaggy “Sway;” Blanca Camacho’s self-effacing and hilarious renditions of “Broadway Baby” and “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off;” Liz McKendry’s soulful and haunting rendition of “Here Alone;” Kwame Remy’s interpretation of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles;” and Bernard Dotson’s spot on and inventive styling in his brilliant interpretation of “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.”
By David Robert, Theater Reviews Limited
BOYS NIGHT OUT, A CELEBRATION OF THE RAT PACK
And Bernard Dotson provides the stand-out lead in the memorable “Gonna Build a Mountain” (Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse) and pays tribute to Sammy Davis, Jr. in his rendition of “Mr. Bojangles” (Jerry Jeff Walker).
By David Roberts, Theater Reviews Limited
SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE
E. Clayton Cornelious, Bernard Dotson (who serves as dance captain), Andrew Rannells and Dennis Stowe concertedly capture the spirit of Lieber and Stoller with their superb singing and exuberant dancing.
Simon Saltzman, Curtain Up
The songs were pretty consistently catchy. My favorite number—and the showstoppingest by far—was "The Begat," which is about, you know, reproducing in the biblical manner. It's performed by the Gospeleers (Bernard Dotson, James Stovall, and Devin Richards) and Bill Rawkins (Chuck Cooper)
Brooklyn Bill, A Queer New York Theater Review
FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE
The Guys--the sassy and witty Bernard Dotson as No Moe, Lance Roberts as Four-Eyed Moe, the formidable bass of Dan Tullis as Big Moe, the sly humor and addictive rhythm of Harrison White as the ever-hungry Eat Moe, and the high impish energy of Alon Williams as Little Moe--are attuned to a style that goes back half a century, and wear it with panache.
By T. H. McCulloh, Los Angeles Times
As landlord Danny Maguire, Bernard Dotson has a marvelous Billy Eckstine-like voice. If that singer’s name is unfamiliar, be apprised that “Xanadu” has flashbacks to Eckstine’s heyday, the ’40s. That allows an Andrews Sisters parody to pop in.
By Peter Fillichia The Star Ledger, Xanadu
From the moment Bernard Dotson's Leading Player urges the crowd at the Theatre at St. George to "Join us—sit where everyone can see," a warm and friendly compact is made. ReVision Theatre's Pippin is a tuneful, skillful evening's entertainment, featuring strong voices, energetic dancing, and a highly likeable cast. The talented Dotson, in the role originated by Ben Vereen, and the ensemble of spirited dancers—Joey Ama Dio, Corinne Cranmer, Brooke Robyn Dairman, Wesley Edwards, Caitrin Kelly, Anthony Marone, and Andrew Winans—acquit themselves well, filling the stage with excitement and vibrancy. Nita Congress NY Theater.com
Four of the men are particularly delightful performing as a quartet to deliver some of the most memorable, upbeat group tunes of their era. E. Clayton Cornelious, Dennis Stowe, Bernard Dotson and Eric LaJuan Summers shine on The Coasters' song "Searchin' (Gonna Find Her)", and are resplendent in sharkskin suits singing The Drifters (and later George Benson) hit "On Broadway. Bob Rendell, Theater in New Jersey. Paper Mill Playhouse
Credit to director Bernard Dotson, who, along with musical director Austin Haller, not only has these five working like a fat and greasy machine (see the show, and you'll know what I mean), but his choreography is also snappy and sassy and expertly executed, especially by Green and Kuykendall. And when the five black singers sit on stools and, without embellishment, in harmony sing "Black and Blue," about wishing one's skin were a different color and the sadness accompanying that wish, you will marvel at the courage of the performers and the emotional power of the moment.
By Barry Pineo, The Arts Austin, Ain’t Misbehavin’
THE MUSIC OF FRANK LOESSER WITH THE NY PHILHARMONIC
Strong contributions came from Ann Hampton Callaway, who brought a jazz element to “I Wish I Didn’t Love You So”; Marc Kudisch (a muscular “Joey, Joey, Joey”) ; and a singing-and-dancing trio (John Bolton, Bernard Dotson and Michael Seelbach) whose footwork was choreographed by Andrew Palermo.
By Stephen Holden, NEW YORK Times
FINIAN'S RAINBOW- CITY CENTER ENCORE
they also knew how to make their case in one clever and romantic song after another….especially "The Begat" (irresistibly presented by Hudson, Bernard Dotson, Joe Aaron Reid, and Devin Richards)
THEATREMANIA.COM David Finkle