Those who only know Juan Pablo Di Pace for his performance as the ditzy, Latin lover Fernando in Fuller House, might be surprised to discover that besides his good looks, and spot on comedic timing, he is also an accomplished musical theatre performer: he sings like an angel and can dance like the devil. He put all his talent to good use in his debut at Feinstein’s/54 Below on Feb. 21-22 where he delighted audience members with a musical journey through his career, while he celebrated some of the greatest composers of all time. Dressed in a dapper tailored suit, which was form-fitting, but also allowed him to move freely when the dance moves required him to, Di Pace made his entrance shortly after 9:30PM and immediately went into a haunting rendition of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”, which made his fans swoon along with him.
Confessing that showbiz can be quite an insane experience he sang “Join the Circus” from Barnum, which served as his own Pippin-esque invitation for us to follow him into his peculiar world, one filled with anecdotes about the time he took a man with special needs to the ballet, or how he suddenly found himself sitting on Meryl Streep’s behind one random day. His ability to weave tales that are both special and seemingly quotidian, allowed him to wrap the entire audience around his finger for the 90 minutes of his show.
The musical arrangements were done by pianist Charlie Alterman, who seamlessly turned “Night Fever” from a sensual love song, into the full blown disco anthem that required the mirrorball to come down from the ceiling. In much more subtle, but perhaps more powerful moments, Alterman combined a movement from “Swan Lake” with “Nature Boy” making for a rendition that was more haunting than your usual cabaret fare, and when he once again made use of “Chasing Cars” he married it to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” encompassing Di Pace’s main appeal which is his ability to command the worlds of nostalgia and the present with equal authority and charisma.