By Michael Buzzelli
Broadway and television star, Norm Lewis, performed at the O’Reilly Theater on Monday night, May 8, as the season finale of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Cabaret series. The performer sang iconic tunes from Broadway, starting with, of all things, “My Favorite Things,” from “The Sound of Music.”
In true Cabaret fashion, he shared trivia and personal anecdotes before launching into a each song.
Aside from his booming baritone, the performer was adept at making his audience feel comfortable, even loved. His rapport was enchanting. When Lewis spoke about being Broadway’s first Black Phantom in “Phantom of the Opera,” a woman in the audience shouted, “You were my first Phantom!” To which, Lewis replied, “I hope I was gentle.”
Not only did he share tidbits about his life in theater, and even shared the stage. He welcomed Pittsburgh’s own Billy Hartung to the stage. Hartung and his adult daughter Elizabeth took over for a tune. It was a beautifully rendered song between father and daughter, mere months away from when he will be walking her down the aisle.
When Lewis returned to the stage, he brilliantly belted out Broadway tunes including “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables” and “Porgy and Bess.”
Side note: He seamlessly blended two versions of “I Got Plenty of Nuttin'” from “Porgy and Bess,” but his songs from “Les Miz” were showstoppers! They were incredibly moving renditions.
Lewis turned “You Got Trouble” from “The Music Man,” into a singalong, when he asked the audience to sing the chorus. A rousing, delightful rendition followed. It seemed like there were some ringers in the seats, because it was expertly done.
Norm Lewis took a dull, Monday evening and turned it into an event. It was a successful end to a successful series.
The 2023-2024 season begins in October with Mauricio Martinez, returning to a renovated Greer Cabaret Theater, 655 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA. For more information, click here.