D.C. Anderson is a sweet and pungent cabaret artist. The man has a candy-coated, high tenor sound. At the same time, he possesses a deliciously tart comic sensibility. Whether he's singing his own songs or those of others, Anderson is one of cabaret's tastiest of talents.
Taking a few days off from the national tour of Phantom of the Opera (in which he plays André), Anderson recently swooped into town to play a series of shows at Don't Tell Mama. There was a hint of the holidays in his show, with songs like the charmingly sarcastic "Department Stores Mean Christmas to Me" (a song he co-wrote with Steven Landau) and the seldom-heard "Christmas Island at Christmas Time" (Stephen Sondheim/Mary Rodgers). But the show might have been best summed up in the bracing David Buskin song "The Rest of the Year," because this was a show for all seasons.
Anderson is known for his sly way with a comedy number. His juxtaposition of heavenly tenor and devilish charm often elicits a laugh and that was very much the case with the autobiographical number "I'm the Law," a hilarious description of Anderson's days as an inspector for Kentucky Fried Chicken. D.C.A. also has a gift for making the very personal songs of others seem as if he wrote them himself; when he performed "Uncle Dave's Grace" (Lou and Peter Berryman), you would have sworn he was singing about his own misanthropic relative.
There is a very powerful dynamic at work when Anderson is on stage because, as funny as he can be, he can also surprise you -- and often does -- with a serious, heartbreaking ballad. His performance of "I Am the Luckiest" (Ben Folds) has emotional dimensions not often found in a cabaret show. He reaches the audience because he is a particularly fine singer-actor who inhabits a lyric even as his beautiful voice helps bring the message home.
Though Anderson's patter is usually one of his strong points, he tended to ramble a bit in this particular show, and some of his stories didn't fully pay off. One had the impression that the act hadn't yet entirely jelled around the songs he chose to perform -- but, oh those songs! D.C. Anderson is a unique artist and you owe it to yourself to catch up with him the next time he's in town.
[More reviews by the Siegels can be found at www.cabarethotlineonline.com. For information on the First Annual Nightlife Awards, to be co-presented by Scott Siegel in January at The Town Hall, click here]