It’s done as part of a combination of “He Touched Me” and “It’s Raining Men” as a sequence dramatizing Mr. Moss’ youthful realization that he was gay.
The mature, perpetually beaming and physically imposing Moss is a fixture on the New York City nightlife scene, appearing in bars and clubs as a host and performer. He also is the host of the cultural affairs television program, Artists Exposed, that’s broadcast on YouTube.
For his cabaret debut, Moss fuses a canny selection of pop and show tunes with often-harrowing autobiographical revelations.
Born in rural Indiana, he grew up smitten with show business and was aware that he was gay as a teenager, since he was more attracted to David Cassidy and other male 1970’s pop culture figures instead of Farrah Fawcett. He arrived in New York City in the 1980’s at the age of 25 to make it as a performer.
After a series of odd jobs that included handing out flyers on the street dressed as Miss Piggy, he landed a gig in a real estate office. He eventually became a broker and took over the company. This sidetracked his starry ambitions and instigated a ferocious, 20-year cocaine addiction.
After recounting the ramifications of his vice in great detail that led to a long-term abusive relationship with an ex-convict, he powerfully sings Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt.” This is performed as a chilling transformation à la Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. He becomes a snarling drug fiend, barreling around looking for and snorting imaginary cocaine with animalistic fury.
Possessed of a soaring tenor baritone voice that forcefully hits every note, an immensely likeable persona and boundless energy as he dances with brio, Moss commands the stage for 70 minutes. Periodically overcome with emotion, he gracefully collects himself and moves on. It’s a moving display of therapeutic showmanship.
Like Mel Tormé with his renowned “Tormedleys,” Moss has a number of clever set piece mashups that are heavy on Barbra Streisand, oldies and bits of Lady Gaga and other divas.
Musical director Andrew Sotomayor’s accomplished arrangements perfectly complement Moss’ vocal strengths. These aid Moss in putting his own delightful stamp on these familiar songs.
Due to another engagement, Sotomayor was not at the piano during the performance under review. Instead, the alluring and very talented Tracy Stark accompanied Moss and joined in with him for a soulful take of Lennon and McCartney’s “Help.”
Director Lennie Watts’ ingenious staging adds great visual scope, making the piece a highly theatrical experience. Mr. Watts positions Moss precisely and variably on the small stage achieving the dimension of a major production. Most crucially the lighting design is a dazzling series of stark brightness replicating the film noir sheen of a police interrogation, crisp blackouts, and ominous red hues.
A crimson blazer festooned with patches of peacock feathers and a pink boa, accessorize Moss’ all black attire and red bowtie. This ensemble is the height of razzle dazzle.
Though it’s the story of one person, the show has an everyman quality. Moss’ tale embodies that of the many young gay men from around the United States who arrived in the past and still continue to come to New York City, lured by the dream of being in the theater. For many it becomes nightmarish.
Tym Moss: (A) Live!! Fun! Fabulous!! Flamboyant!!! is an uplifting musical odyssey of redemption.
Tym Moss: (A) Live!! Fun! Fabulous!! Flamboyant!!! (October 1, 7 and 15, 2017)
Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-757-0788 or visit http://www.donttellmamanyc.com
Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission