Club Review: Scott Raneri’s “Extra! Extra! The Extra Adventures of an Actor”

October 4, 2021 | By | Add a Comment

Scott Raneri is a good singer with an extremely likable stage presence. He has a rich concept for a show in Extra! Extra! The Extra Adventures of an Actor. He’s good looking and has a ‘60s nightclub entertainer vibe, slight and slick, nicely put together. Scott is fairly new on the scene: This is his second cabaret act, and he was nominated by both MAC and BroadwayWorld for Best Male Cabaret Debut in 2019 for his first cabaret show, The Marvelous Mr. Marzo. I recommend seeing Extra! Extra! We don’t have a ton of men mounting cabaret shows, and this show has its strong moments, despite flaws. I think it’s a good example of do’s and don’ts, too.

(Photo: Ted Ely)

The autobiographical concept is that Scott is always the extra, or the second banana—never the star in theatre, and never anything but background in film. Having to make a living in recent years has somewhat wreaked havoc on his career and his love life. You can’t take background jobs in TV if you hope to have a career as a principal, and you can’t always be leaving your lover to go out on the road to tour in regional houses.

The show should be a total comedy in my opinion, with one poignant eleven o’clock ballad. While there is a lot of good material in the show, it doesn’t always deliver on the concept, and frankly, the trials and tribulations of being in show business are truly so ridiculous, I think one might concentrate on the absurdity, rather than going for the mixture of humor and pathos.

Scott seemed a little under-rehearsed, something that was evident both by his losing his place several times (the show is totally scripted) and also his lack of true connection to some of his material. I believe songs like Something’s Coming (Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim) and his medley of It’s Not Where You Start/Nothing Can Stop Me Now (Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields from Seesaw/Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley from The Roar of the Greasepaint…) would have landed more impactfully had Scott lived with them longer before putting them on stage. My note to myself reads, “Sometimes he’s just not in it.” A noted exception (and there were others) was a ballad that, though seemingly out of place, was appreciated because of his flawless delivery, and that was Water Colors, a 1975 song by Janis Ian about a couple going their separate ways. It was a beautiful moment when Scott and song merged, and his abilities to interpret and act were fully present.

The double entendre subtext of Look at That Face (Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse from The Roar of the Greasepaint…) was especially funny to me, a former producer who has sat in so many casting sessions trying to get clients to pay attention to actors who are pouring their hearts into auditions for pain relievers or trash bags. I would have loved to see more of this humor. Scott sang the funny I Can Be an Icon Too written by his esteemed musical director Fred Barton. My note here says “When Scott feels comfortable, he’s terrific.” The material was tried and true American Musical Theatre. The only disappointment was The People in My Life (Jule Styne, Bob Merrill) that just didn’t stand up at all to the rest of the repertoire.

Scott’s support team was stellar. Fred Barton is a delicious musician to listen to and watch conducting his fellow musicians, Dr. David Ashton on woodwinds, and Steve Picataggio on drums. I don’t doubt that director Mark Corpron is talented, I just think the concept, which was a fun idea, was misinterpreted.

Scott’s singing is shockingly good. He frequently soars. Why so shocking? As I mentioned earlier, we don’t see a ton of men in cabaret (yes, they are there, but women surely outnumber men). I asked myself, “Scott Raneri, where has your lovely voice been all my life?”

***

Presented at The Triad, September 25 and November 7, 2021.

 

 

Category: News / Reviews / Commentary, Reviews

About the Author ()

Though now Betsyann Faiella is known in New York primarily as a publicist, she came to that profession from two previous careers that contributed to her love of promoting creative people: as a working singer and as a media producer. She made her cabaret debut at the legendary Reno Sweeney. She was the lead singer in a band with Lewis Friedman, the impresario of both Reno Sweeney and s.n.a.f.u. Later she performed in such other iconic venues as Birdland, Blue Note, the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, and Ronnie Scott's in London. She appeared in concert with jazz legends Hank Jones and Paul Smith and performed at arts centers and universities around the country.

Leave a Reply