To a sold-out audience full of dedicated fans and admirers (and Sound of Music co-star Paige Davis), Robert Cuccioli delivered something for everyone in his cabaret show, Heroes. Presented on July 8 at the beautiful Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, the show's title theme was mined to its fullest extent as Cuccioli presented songs to celebrate heroes of many types: public heroes, very private ones, celebrity heroes and icons.
Looking fit and trim and casually dressed, the musical theatre performer mixed rock, show tunes, and pop from several decades. His easygoing patter worked well in this setting, and he sang with a sometimes grand dramatic flair, but he doesn't take himself too seriously. Scoring best with theatre songs ("Man of La Mancha" was stunning), his repertoire was heavy on rock and pop, which sometimes exceeded a comfortable vocal range and occassionally just didn't work ("Imagine", ""Blowin' in the Wind"). However, there was plenty to enjoy, and it's always interesting to see Cuccioli's effect on his fans, as he charms his way through the audience.
Vocal highlights included a gorgeous "Wind Beneath My Wings," dedicated to his sisters, and a very impressive Elvis experience on "Love Me Tender." There would have been a riot had he not performed "This is the Moment" (from his popular performance in Jekyll & Hyde), and he did not disappoint. This song has had a varied life, from "Star Search" to skating competitions, but this is the guy who owns it. His performance did not give a hint of the number of times he has sung the song; it was a first-rate and fresh performance.
Cuccioli was accompanied by a great musical trio led by his musical director Jan Rosenberg (Assoc. Conductor for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). The room, lovely to look at but narrow and too deep for a solo cabaret show, was full of appreciative fans, some of whom flew in just for this show and some who have enjoyed Cuccioli's popular appearances in Pittsburgh CLO productions. The exchange of admiration between the audience and the singer added to the enjoyment of the evening.
Earlier installments in this cabaret series featured local musical couple Tony Richards & Stephanie Riso in February and Joyce Breach in May. The $45 price includes a glass of wine and an assortment of hors d'hoeuvres, as well as a beautiful view from the Symphony Room. For ticket information for the final show in the series, with Ann Hampton Callaway on September 9, please visit the PICT website.