BY MICHAEL SHIREY | Jason Robert Brown knows what he is talking about when he sings “I’m in bizness” — a line from the opening number at his packed SubCulture concert on January 25, where he is currently the artist-in-residence. Back by popular demand, it is clear that business is going well for the polymath composer-lyricist, who hosts intimate concerts featuring guests performing music from his famed songbook. Past guest-performers have included acclaimed Broadway actors like Tony-Award winners Kelli O’Hara (“The King And I”) and Norbert Leo Butz (“Catch Me If You Can,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”).
Following the opener, Brown performed “I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You” from his popular chamber musical “The Last Five Years,” before segueing to a new song, “Why Is Falling In Love So Easy?” Explaining that though he performed the tune for the first time earlier in January, this night was it’s New York debut — and thus its real premier “as far as we’re concerned,” he joked.
Later in the evening, Brown was joined by acclaimed accordionist Guy Klucevsek, who performed his piece “Dancing on the Volcano,” before accompanying Brown and his band on “This Is Not Over Yet” from the Tony-Award winning musical “Parade.” Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) came on stage mid-song.
Jason Robert Brown kicks off his artist-in-residency at SubCulture
Burgess recounted meeting Brown for the first time many years ago in Atlanta, where Brown was conducting a touring production of “Parade.” Upon meeting the composer that night, Burgess vowed he would one day work with Brown — a promise he fulfilled some years later when he sang in a production of “Songs For A New World.”
Burgess came and went throughout the rest of the night, performing “Still Hurting” (“The Last Five Years”), a cover of Annie Lennox’s “Wonderful,” and “King of the World” (“Songs For A New World”).
The evening’s other songs included “It All Fades Away” and “Being A Geek,” from the Broadway musicals “Bridges of Madison County” and “13,” respectively. Brown also performed songs from his solo album “Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes.”
Before closing up the night, Brown thanked the audience, many of whom had been to every one of his SubCulture shows. His career may have had its commercial ups and downs, but Brown has attracted a dedicated following. When the rest of the band left the stage, he stayed behind for one last number, “Someone To Fall Back On.”
Lena Hall (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” “Kinky Boots”) will join Brown for his next installment at SubCulture, on February 20 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 at subculturenewyork.com/events.