On Friday July 13 and Saturday July 14 Tony Award-winning actor/singer Levi Kreis presented his electric one-man odyssey Up Close and Personal to a packed house at the NoHo Arts Center to benefit both the venue and Independant Music. Consisting mostly of original material from his three albums, there was also a preview of "Timeless" from a brand new album with a 2013 release. He managed a little patter in between the tunes - just enough for audiences to get a sense of just how personal and easy to like Kreis really is.
The 75 minute set was a whirlwind of Kreis's excessively brilliant talent. Imagine a flamboyant Billy Joel, only gay, alone at the piano, pounding the keys harmoniously and singing from the depths of his soul. Of course to please his fans, the bill included the familiar "Hallelujah, I Love Her So", "Seasons of Love" from Rent, in which Kreis played Roger for a while in the West Coast tour, "Great Balls of Fire" from his Tony winning role of Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet and his own composition, the very popular hit "Nothing At All". The Kreis sound is unique - a little rock, pop, blues with enough touches of gospel and country mixed in to make each tune the perfect telegram to communicate his very personal experience as passionately as possible. Most can relate to such passion, but, regardless of how serious the tone may become, it is always laced with humor. Take for example, the Gospel According to Levi; there's a delicious tongue-in-cheek quality to it. He's intensely sweet and full of a devilishly unwicked charm. Hardly wicked, as he does glow spirituality!
Kreis brought everyone in the room to their feet, as he bid a tearful farewell to his many LA friends. There is no better way to say it, but Levi Kreis is Who He Is, Where He Belongs, and we're all the luckier for it. The best to him as he leaves LA after 12 years to take up residence in Chicago!
Prior to the concert there was a lovely private VIP reception with wine and delicious hors d'oevres in an upstairs Center party room, hosted by Artistic Directors James Mellon and Kevin Bailey, where Kreis spent time talking to everyone. In my chat with him he expressed feelings that Chicago is currently where it's at for him and his partner, as he continues to explore opportunities to make waves in his musical career. Hopefully, he will wend his way back to Broadway in the not too distant future to enchant us once more, maybe this time with ... The Levi Kreis Story.