Accompanied by pianist Victoria Casella, drummer Matthew Koller, and bassist Perry Orfanella, Martin guided us through the Great American Songbook and the historic significant artistry of Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett. He ably characterized elements contributing to the renown of each singer, reminiscing with us through nostalgic songs representing distinctive decades like I’ve Got the World on the String, Brother Can You Spare a Dime, Swinging on a Star, Straighten Up and Fly Right, For Sentimental Reasons, Nature Boy, Night and Day, Nice Work if You Can Get it, It’s Only a Paper Moon, The Candy Man, and much more. Martin also spoke of the challenges that faced African-American luminaries like Sammy Davis Jr and Nat King Cole. He reflected on his own experiences as a lone minority while a college student.
The packed house was wooed by Martin’s delightful repartee, sincerity, and musical artistry in this intimate theatre setting, perfect for a cabaret performance. Martin easily met the challenges of a varied repertoire, range, and styles as he communicated directly with the audience through song.
With a seemingly simple set, skilled lighting, excellent sound, musical balance, choreography, and props like period microphones and a cabaret table setting where we learned of Nat King Cole’s final days, we were drawn into the times and places presented.
Martin showed his versatility and power as a singer and actor. He displayed his mastery of styles and range, seamlessly shifting from one song to another, drawing us into the magic of music and verse as he projected feelings and memories into our hearts and imaginations.
After a standing ovation, Martin’s encore reminded us that tonight was about falling in love. He reprised Nat King Cole with L-O-V-E., Let’s Fall in Love, and When I Fall in Love.
The Florida Repertory Theater
Tickets start at $59/$55 and are available online at www.FloridaRep.org and through the box office at (239) 332-4488.
“I Love You For Sentimental Reasons” Nat King Cole