FRISK ME AGAIN
The hubbub in the lobby of the Public Theater late last Friday night suggested we were in for a dynamic show. Frisk Me: The Songs of Max Vernon packed Joe’s Pub with one of the most energized audiences of friends and fans I have ever seen at this venue, and the few unfortunate souls who were turned away from the sold out concert missed a landmark event in this up-and-coming songwriter’s career.
Max Vernon slips seamless from indie popular song to musical theater and back again; the story is always the heart of his compelling compositions. As a composer, lyricist, and bookwriter, he weaves eclectic musical journeys that speak to a generation of twenty-somethings searching for love (or at least a hookup) in a slightly schizophrenic, technology dependent culture.
Dressed in the most fantastical outfits throughout the evening, Vernon kicked off the evening at the keys with “Some Kind of Paradise,” showcasing his own smooth vocals on a rousing pop anthem. His jazzy musical sophistication and clever lyrics carried across the evening’s star-studded set, which he introduced with palpable excitement.
The short musical Sugarbaby – featuring book and lyrics by Vernon and music by Shane Parks, and performed by the hilarious Sheri Sanders, Alyse Alan Louis, and Robert Petkoff – ventured into the comedy of online dating, complete with witty musical pop-up ads. The subsequent collection of cabaret songs included Lady Rizo belting the fierce piano ballad “Dizzy,” Sarah Stiles playing up the bluesy “Psycho-Bitch” with a lollipop in hand, and Vernon back at the keys for a playfully cynical “The Future is Great.”
Sam Pinkleton’s direction and Rona Siddiqui’s music direction gave nuanced shape to the story of each song, and a small rock ensemble and three backup vocalists rounded out the stellar sound.
As Molly Pope took the audience on a quick and dirty journey through airport security with the title song “Frisk Me” (lyrics by Vernon and music by Helen Park), I realized this concert would be only my first frisking by the fabulous Max Vernon. Whether in concert or on a theatrical stage, this 24-year-old multidisciplinary artist will be a virtuosic talent to watch in the upcoming years.
photos by Monica Simoes
Frisk Me: The Songs of Max Vernon
Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
played November 30, 2012
for future tickets, call 212-967-7555 or visit http://www.joespub.com/
for more info, visit http://www.maxvernon.com/