Rihanna, Dreamgirls & all of the above

The best thing about Toronto’s most talented, young performers who continue to dazzle and delight with their own Cabarets at Statler’s Piano Lounge and the Berkeley Theatre Downstairs is that each of them is bursting with his or her own unique, individual talents, strengths and strong, captivating personalities. No one personifies this statement stronger or more ardently than the ever-adorable powerhouse of talent Jeigh Madjus. I attended his sold-out Cabaret, loss, love & all of the above on Wednesday February 18th, 2009 at Statler’s. I have never seen the downstairs of Statler’s so crowded and buzzing with anticipatory energy and excitement. I knew from the moment I arrived that I was in for an amazing evening.
Madjus is a graduate of Sheridan College’s music theatre- performance program, and I think it’s fair to say that he defied the cliché (to say the least) of his alma mater from the onset of the show as he belted out OutKast’s “Movin Cool (After Party).” Jeigh Madjus isn’t like anyone else you will see in this city. He can infuse pop and hip-hop songs with so much beauty and soul, while still maintaining a rock star dreamboat quality that is totally cool and utterly irresistible.
John Legend’s “Don’t You Worry Bout A Thing” became a jazzy, gorgeously smooth ballad, while Nikka Costa’s “I Gotta Know” showcased how velvety his voice is and how effortlessly he can delve into his higher register. His voice soared and saturated the theatre with his rendition of Natasha Bedingfield’s beautiful song “Soulmate.” Who else except Madjus would think to turn Rihanna’s “Umbrella” into a lovely acoustic love song? Remarkable.
He then launched into his one up-tempo song, Kate Perry’s “If You Can Afford Me,” which proved that someday this pop sensation will be singing at Madison Square Gardens. From there he seamlessly shifted gears singing Jason Robert Brown’s “King of the World” from the musical Songs For a New World. It was absolute perfection. It is obvious that Madjus has had musical theatre vocal training, and his ability to infuse such heartfelt emotion into the songs he sings is a testament to his acting abilities, but it is so interesting to watch what such training and talent can do when applied to a different style of music. He is simply captivating to watch, his eyes have the ability to convey the essence of each song, and his slightly mischievous- always genuine- smile is enchanting.
Love, loss & all of the above was met with thunderous applause, and Madjus was encouraged to give two encore performances which were absolutely warranted. The last song he sang was “Love You I Do” from Dreamgirls which I last heard Gabi Epstein sing at her Cabaret the week before. The renditions were equally fantastic, and yet, so incredibly different, which proves why there is room for all of these talented, young performers to coexist in the Toronto theatre community and to continually support one another and cheer each other on. And at the end of the day, that is my favourite thing to see.
Move over, Jennifer Hudson! Jeigh Madjus has got it all. Toronto loves him, they do.

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