“Let Me Entertain You” from Gypsy and “The Greatest Star” from Funny Girl, are the first two of numerous knockout numbers in performer Scott Raneri’s exhilarating cabaret show, Extra! Extra! where he charts his so far modest acting career. Mr. Raneri’s exceptional singing and appealing stage presence demonstrates that he’s more than ready for success.
“Something’s Coming” from West Side Story comes next, further affirming Raneri’s superior vocal talents as he beautifully hits every one of those hallowed high notes. Besides these standards, Raneri’s novel program includes rarities from Minnie’s Boys, Nick and Nora, Whoop-Dee-Doo!, as well as Fred Barton’s yearning show busines anthem, “I Can Be an Icon Too.” Raneri’s virtuoso rendition of “Only in New York” from Thoroughly Modern Millie, makes it seem to be comparable to Kander and Ebb’s, “New York, New York.” Reminiscing of past romances leads to a stirring treatment of Janice Ian’s “Water Colors.”
All the songs are cannily woven into Raneri’s often comical universal struggling actor narrative. His well-sculpted insider patter and wry delivery are reminiscent of the the drollery of that immortal raconteur, Tony Randall. We learn Raneri has had a substantial career in supporting roles in regional productions, got his Actors Equity card eight years ago and hasn’t yet been on Broadway.
Striking fadeouts are a feature of technical director JP Perreaux’s electrifying lighting design recalling Bob Fosse’s sharp visual vision of show business à la Cabaret, Liza with a Z and Lenny that really puts Extra! Extra! puts over. Indeed, with his tweaked formal wear including a large black bow tie, Raneri resembles a 1940’s pro night club singer of the sort to be found in the memories of Fosse’s All That Jazz’s alter ego, Joe Gideon. Director Mark Corpron’s masterful staging has Raneri mostly stationery at a microphone in a stand, precisely gesturing and employing his emphatic facial expressions to great effect, as well as on a stool for reflective passages.
Music director Fred Barton is expertly on piano and his sly interactions with Raneri adds mirth. Dr. David Ashton on woodwinds and Steve Picataggio on drums contribute to the show’s musical excellence.
The title, Extra! Extra! refers to Raneri’s past livelihood as a prolific screen background player in such television shows as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. “I’m finally playing the lead part in a show, my own…”
Extra! Extra! (September 25 and November 7, 2021)
The Triad Theater, 158 West 72nd Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.scottraneri.com
Running time: 65 minutes without an intermission