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Cabaret Review (LA): Center Stage featuring Dominique Paton at Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s

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Michael Sterling continues in his quest to present Los Angeles talent (musical theatre talent) in his beautiful and intimate supper club Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello's. Many of these artists are appearing in a solo show like this for the first time. Others are old pros. Dominique Paton delivered her powerhouse set on June 26th at Sterling’s. Like many before her, Dominique’s act was not so much an act as a showcase of what might be her audition songs. While this can be interesting, it tends to distort the evening into being a showy display of voice rather than a well thought out and conceived either cabaret act or more suited to the space, a nightclub act.

The trouble with a presentation of a showcase is that the singers tend to pick songs that show off their pipes rather than tell a story or present a theme. Many of the performers chose to relay events in their lives, both personal and professional, that compelled them into show business. Pros like Debbie Reynolds and her friend Rip Taylor can get away with this because, let's face it, they have lead fascinating lives and met many celebrities. Young performers have not had a chance to live the kind of life that would either enchant or keep the audience enthralled.

Dominique Paton was a finalist in the recent Next Great Stage Star ompetition held at Vitello’s. She has an immense voice and can belt it out with the best of them. I think she is seduced by her own abilities to do the kind of screaming- singing one finds in American Idol. Many of her songs, like her lovely tribute to Lena Horne, eventually ended up in the deafening heights, (someone needs to tell these singers to back away from the mike), but when Dominique sang more plaintive songs at a lower energy level, she had a tendency to rush, not breathe, and frankly go flat. Now she is young but so was Streisand, Judy Garland, etc. Her best number was a very funny "Random Black Girl" by Michael Kooman and Christopher Diamond, in which she lamented having to be the token black, forced to provide that soulful wail.

Dominique has great potential. She is not up to singing Diana Ross’ "Home" from The Wiz, lacking the life experience to do it justice. Rather than try to imitate her famous contemporaries, which ends up with comparisons that really don’t serve her well, she needs to find material that fits her now as she grows into her talent. Dominique Paton performed on June 26th at Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s. I look forward to seeing her talent develop.

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