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Cabaret Review (LA): Matt Zarley at Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s

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Matt Zarley has a magnificent vocal instrument. He is a true torch singer and crooner, which is rare these days, though he can also handle certain rock songs with ease; after all, he played both Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Tommy in the rock opera The Who's Tommy.

Last week Michael Sterling presented Amick Byram to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the birth of Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's. Matt Zarley completed the bookend celebration with a concert on June 12th.

Zarley has had quite a career in show business, having started acting with Tony The Tiger in a Kellogg's Frosted Flakes commercial. His act at Sterling's was basically a trip through his career, highlighted by musical excerpts from his life, including Broadway shows he was a part of: A Chorus Line, Cats, Kiss of The Spider Woman, Chicago, and the aforementioned Joseph and Tommy. He also sang a medley of songs from Dreamgirls, which was the first Broadway show that he saw.

He sees his other inspirations as Elton John (he sang a beautiful rendition of "Daniel") and Stevie Wonder, among others. His favorite song is Rickie Lee Jones’ "Company," which he sang in concert with his own moving composition "Say Goodbye."

The rest of his set was dedicated to songs he wrote with musical director Steve Cahill. Mostly he sings of heartbreak and loss. He also paid tribute to his parents in a lovely song he wrote for them as a Christmas present called "You're Always There." He paid tribute as well to his aunt with a tune Elvis covered, "Always on my Mind." He ended the evening with the more upbeat "Where Would I Be."

At one point in his career Zarley was named one of Hollywood's Hottest Bachelors. Never being ashamed of who he is, he was the first openly gay "Bachelor" in People Magazine. His gay-themed romantic song "Because of You" is a hit with the gay set and has made him something of a gay icon. Surprisingly this handsome hunk of a guy also struck me as a bit shy. He mainly sings to himself, with his eyes closed.

Zarley's concert was called "Dedication" and he performed it at Sterling's Upstairs at Vitello's on June 12th. His debut album, entitled appropriately Debut, is available. He is a singer and a wonderful one at that.

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