Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jason Graae: Cereal Killer

Amidst an extensive Variety Pack of performing credits, the kids will probably be most impressed to hear that for five years, Broadway/Cabaret Celebri-Tay, Jason Graae (pronounced "Graw", not "Gray", which would have worked better with my little rhyme scheme) was the voice of Lucky the Leprechaun for Lucky Charms Cereal. I was at Birdland this past Monday night for the premiere of his new act, "GRAAE'S ANATOMY". Full of green clovers, yellow moons, orange stars, a few pink triangles (if ya catch my drift), and other sweet surprises, the show was, by all means, magically delicious.

The evening opened with Jason and his very special guest stars, Mary Testa and Jim Caruso, in a hilarious parody of Sondheim's "Not Getting Married Today", changed to "Not Doing My Cabaret", which suitably introduced the crowd to the eccentric star. But that was only the first of many Trix. Jason took on an assortment of songs as only he could, including Kander and Ebb's "How Lucky Can You Get", which he emotionally belted to an ill-fated box of Lucky Charms in retaliation against the folks at General Mills, who eventually kicked him off his pot of gold. And later in the evening, Jason pulled a few more prizes out of his box....(???)....when he called to the stage Michael Winther and David Engel (his fellow alumni from Forever Plaid) to join him in a rousing tribute to their girl Hillary Clinton, that might have firmed up Hil's Gay Marriage stance, had she been in attendance.

Standing tall at 5-foot-nothing (give or take), Graae is a skyscraper on stage. His comedy is marvelously mischievous and brilliantly buffoonish, in a vaudevillian style that recalls the genius of greats like Donald O'Connor. But he anchors his show with such smart sincerity so it's never over the top, which is what's truly at the root of his talent. In a flash, he's able to bring it down a notch and deliver (in a beautiful tenor/baritone with a dash of cinnamon and two scoops of Mandy Patinkin) fervent ballads like "Mama a Rainbow" and William Finn's "What More Can I Say", that are enough to break your marshmallow heart.

By the end of the evening, I think everyone in the room had just a little crush on this Fruit Loop. It was an incredible show, packed with 100% whole-grain musical comedy (and high in fiber.) Jason Graae is one Frosted Mini-Wheat you don't want to miss.

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