Reviewed by Jon Shade ~
The scene: a beautifully intimate cabaret setting with about 25 white linen-covered dinner tables, romantic lighting, a baby grand piano, no extra room to move around, and a very small stage.
The event: Morphium Kabarett — a salon named for the sensual, Spoliansky-penned waltz featuring an eclectic revue of songs, both domestic and international, along with special guests from the cabaret world.
The man of the hour: Mr. Kim David Smith, a strikingly beautiful Australian chanteur who looks like he’d be a peripheral character on Downton Abbey, the British television show famous for its fashions of the decadent 1920s era.
Lights begin to dim as musical director extraordinaire Tracy Stark starts to play a hauntingly ethereal melody, and then –like an apparition— Mr. Smith enters from the back of the house through the crowd to take the stage, dressed oh-so-tastefully in an old fashioned tuxedo shirt complete with white bow tie, topped off with what can only be described as a hybrid of suspenders and a harness. He knowingly radiates sexuality and he stares down the expectantly giddy audience with a menacing grin. My first thought was that he appears to be the living embodiment of the Emcee in Cabaret, that seminal Kander and Ebb musical about the indulgences of 1920s Berlin. This, of course is no mistake, given that the musical’s setting is the Kit Kat Club, spelled with “K”s, as is the act’s title word — Kabarett, German style. It should be noted that indeed he is also going to be appearing as the Emcee in an actual production of Cabaret this August at the Cape Playhouse in Massachusetts!
Singing in multiple languages, the performer is a magnetic presence, and his entertainingly dangerous veneer, which is ever-present when he sings, is dropped between numbers as he talks to the audience, and is disarmingly charming, and truthfully funny. He possesses a very nice voice that only complements his chiseled ingenue looks; however, there were a few times where he went a bit sharp, but not enough to distract from his monstrous talent and likeability.
But this evening is not all about him. He has brought with him two friends. First, the wonderful Gay Marshall who graces us with songs from her Edith Piaf cabaret, all beautifully interpreted here. Second, the silver-voiced and physically imposing Todd Murray, a very tall and well- built gentleman who sings a sexy and defiant version of “I’m Your Man.”
The sum of all these parts: two guests, along with Mr. Smith’s song selections which are unique and exciting, add up to quite a titillating evening of fun, decadence, and great music. That is refreshingly off the beaten path of what one would expect from a cabaret performer. I enjoyed my night— and, if you choose to see Mr. Smith before he goes off to Massachusetts to play the Emcee, where I’m sure he will garner plenty of new fans, I think that you will, too. The dates are July 6 and 13.
Pangea (Café Noctambulo) is downtown at 178 Second Avenue. Near East 8th Street. See www.pangeanyc.com