Martin Vidnovic, a Broadway veteran, presented “Broadway & Beyond,” a program of standards at The Green Room 42, one that included a moving visit to Baby, the musical with which he is most closely associated.
Accompanied with sensitivity by his music director James Followell (who also occasionally provided vocal harmonies), Vidnovic sang a rather staid program, giving each song his all, but connecting them with anecdotes that unfortunately fell rather flat.
He began by wandering through The Green Room 42 audience singing “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” (Rodgers & Hammerstein), a charming way to ingratiate himself with the audience. In quick succession came the nicely sung “The Best Is Yet to Come” (Carolyn Leigh/Cy Coleman), “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” (Alan Jay Lerner/Burton Lane) and “I Love a Piano” (Irving Berlin), all given respectful interpretations, none of which registered deeply.
With the medley of “My Romance” and “My Funny Valentine,” he warmed up and came to a gentle boil with the two songs from Baby: “At Night She Comes Home to Me” and “With You,” both by Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire. Even without knowing how the songs fit into this moving show, it was obvious from the change in Vidnovic’s features that he identified with both the meaning of the words and the meaning of these songs in his life.
Thereafter, he scored better on the ballads than the jauntier ditties. In “I’m a Fool to Want You” (Frank Sinatra/Jack Wolf/Joel Herron), his voice hinted at Sinatra’s pipes, segueing to a romantic “Stella By Starlight” (Victor Young) and Jacques Brel’s poignant “Ne Me Quitte Pas.”
He might have reconsidered including “My Way” (Paul Anka and Jacques Revaux), a song that has taken on a slick Las Vegas patina, but his encore, “Somewhere” (Stephen Sondheim/Leonard Bernstein) took his voice to a sweeter place.
Vidnovic seems to be pushing his voice upward from baritone to a John Raitt dark tenor causing occasional discomfort in his voice production that diminished as he became more comfortable.
The program should have included some more contemporary numbers from recent Broadway productions to show his range and flexibility. He also might have connected the songs with heartfelt personal anecdotes rather than shtick, in order to give his audience more of himself rather than showbiz smoothness.
Nevertheless, it is impossible not to like Martin Vidnovic who has starred in productions of The Fantasticks, Oklahoma!, Baby, Brigadoon and Guys and Dolls.
Martin Vidnovic: Broadway & Beyond (April 13, 2019)
The Green Room 42, 570 Tenth Avenue, in Manhattan
For reservations, call 646-449-7792 or visit http://www.TheGreenRoom42.com
Running time: one hour without an intermission