Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cabaret review - Dean Butler @ Sterling's

Dean Butler is perhaps best known to audiences as Almanzo Wilder, husband of Melissa Gilbert's Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. He also has a legion of fans from his TV days as 'Moondoggie' in The New Gidget. Few may realize that before TV Butler had an extensive musical theatre career playing Tony in West Side Story and Rapunzel's Prince in Sondheim's Into the Woods, among many others. Saturday, May 9 marked his cabaret debut at Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's. It was a wonderfully warm evening of comedy and song.
Butler is as homespun as apple pie and a delightfully genuine storyteller. Titling the show "It's All About Me", he proceeded to talk about where his career started. Doing musicals in high school gives an actor the chance to do roles he would be cast in. This led to his interp of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof , singing "If I Were a Rich Man". If he sounded as good then as he did Saturday, he would have nailed the role; it was that good! Next came some funny audition stories, like when he went up for a Don Bellasario TV show about a helicopter, and said upon entering, "How many shows do you think you can come up with involving a helicopter?"
Bellasario's response: "Many! Thanks for coming in!" Butler's delivery was deliciously amusing and he had the audience in stitches. Other memorable highlights included: Kermut the Frog singing "Rainbow Connection", a very dramatic and sinister "Pretty Women" from Sweeney Todd, a stunning rendition of "The Gambler", which he had performed at the Grand Ole Opry, and a funny impression of William Shatner's attempt at singing "Fly Me to the Moon". A real surprise was the appearance of Caryn Richman, Butler's Gidget, who joined him on stage for a duet of "Summer Nights" from Grease, a show she had toured in for many years. There was also a fine West Side Story medley of Tony's songs and a very sweet rendition of "Have I Told You Lately" sung to his wife, followed by a dance with her in the audience.
Dean Butler is one very humorous man and a terrific singer. His cabaret debut was a joyous night to remember. He is the kind of night club performer I like to see again & again!
PS It was an added treat to meet Katharine "Scottie" MacGregor in the audience who played the very irascible, but funny Mrs. Oleson in Little House! What a grande person!


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