When Howard McGillin takes the stage at the Oak Room Supper Club of the Algonquin and effervescently starts with the lyric “I Love to Sing,” it is clear from the outset that he means it. Here is an engaging gentleman who consistently imparts enthusiasm into every number he chooses in his pleasing show (September 13-24) aptly titled “Isn’t It Romantic?”
McGillin, best known for having played the Phantom in the long-running Broadway hit “The Phantom of the Opera” and for other theater work that has netted him Tony and Drama Desk nominations, has a charming voice and a directness that imparts clarity and meaning to his selections.
He also establishes a connection by telling something of his life and how he started on what became his career, and there is still a bit of awe in him at what happened since a teacher once told him he didn’t have what it takes to become an actor. He recounts how he was for a while a contract player at a Hollywood Studio, but finding no future there, he decided to give New York a try. The Big Apple is where he blossomed in a career that also afforded him the opportunity to perform in London and elsewhere in the world, and he is at home on concert stages as well as in the theater.
Adhering to a style of informality, McGillIn ranges through numbers as varied as Sondheim’s “Putting It Together” and “Good Thing Going”, Irving Berlin’s “Isn’t This a Lovely Day To Be Caught in the Rain?” and “A Foggy Day in London Town” by the Gershwins. There’s a further nod to London with “A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square.”
McGillin deftly pairs “Isn’t It Romantic?” with “All the Things You Are,” injecting both with intense feeling and lyricism. He appeared in the Harnick-Bock show “She Loves Me,” and accordingly treats us to the musical’s title song. I particularly liked the feeling of longing he achieved in singing “Haven’t Met You Yet.” He also has fun with the odd choice from another era, “How ‘Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm?”
In short, McGillin, a likable guy with an appealing voice, clearly loves to sing, which seduces an audience into the sprit of wanting to listen. At the Oak Room Supper Club, Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street. Reservations: 212-419-9331 or email@example.com.