Review by David Roberts of
Review by David Roberts of Theater Reviews
||"Robert Cuccioli "
at Arci's Place
the end of Robert Cuccioli's current show at Arci's place, audience members have a new
hero. One might assume that hero to be Mr. Cuccioli himself. Certainly the room at Arci's
was packed with patrons who would follow Robert Cuccioli anywhere. This artist is
completely passionate about his craft and his audiences are just as passionate about him
and his formidable talent as an actor and a singer. However the new hero is someone Mr.
Cuccioli introduces in a subtle way throughout the evening. By the end of this review, the
reader will know who that new hero is and that revelation might be surprising to many.
Robert Cuccioli's show is all about heros. Screen heros and heros captured on video.
Larger than life heros who have shown courage and those who have fallen. Passionate men
and women who have made a difference not only in their own time but for all time. Heroic
relationships. All heros the audience can identify with and choose to emulate.
This well designed show begins with "Holding Out for a Hero" (Jim Steinman/Dean
Pitchford) from the long-running "Footloose." Mr. Cuccioli instantly wins the
audience's heart with his powerful interpretation of this popular song. His eyes never
stop making contact with each person in the room and with his skills as actor and vocalist
he charms us and easily convinces us to join him on his search for the hero we all need.
His choice of this particular song also reminds us of that wonderful show
"Footloose" which continues to entertain and challenge audiences at the Richard
The first song beautifully segues into "Man of La Mancha" (Mitch Leigh/Joe
Darion) from the timeless show by the same name and "C'est Moi" (Frederick
Lowe/Alan Jay Lerner) from "Camelot." The "daring, loyal, kind, and
courageous" heros from these shows are given a new life by Robert Cuccioli's ability
to get inside the lyric and explore all its treasures and not just those more accessible
gems from the song's surface.
All sixteen of the songs from "Hero" are familiar. It is the familiarity of the
music and lyric and the power of Mr. Cuccioli's voice that makes the show memorable and
successful. This talented singer is as comfortable with Richard Holler's "Abraham,
Martin and John" as he is impersonating "The King" with "Love Me
Tender." Whether serious or playful, Robert Cuccioli never strays from his purpose to
make the hero approachable and the song memorable. He has consummate respect for the songs
he chooses to sing and the audiences he chooses to sing to.
Mr. Cuccioli brings new passion to Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" and the
heartfelt "Go the Distance" (Alan Menken/David Zippel). But it is in the
touching rendition of Meredith Willson's "Till There Was You" from "The
Music Man" that we see a hint of what makes Robert Cuccioli so popular and such an
important contributor to the theatre.
This is an actor who is completely in touch with his feelings and his passions. He is
aware of his own dreams and his own fantasies and is able to set in motion the fantasies
of those who see and hear him perform as very few performers are able to do. Like a
fearless therapist, Mr. Cuccioli gives the audience permission to transfer all their hopes
and dreams and notions of romance and passion onto himself so that each person in the
audience can ultimately find healing and wholeness in her or his own life's journey.
When he shares the story of the heroic relationship between Christopher and Dana Reeve the
heroism of love has new meaning for the audience. Mr. Cuccioli is graciously careful to be
sure everyone in his audience is included when he speaks of love and relationship. By
letting us into his own life and telling us of the support he had received from his three
sisters, we can better appreciate the support we receive and find the courage needed to
give support where it is needed.
Finishing with "Hero" by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff, Robert Cuccioli
brings the audience full circle, from the heros of the silver screen to the heros we find
in our own hearts and our own mirrors. Though there are heros all around, ultimately we
need to find and cherish that hero within.
Robert Cuccioli's "Hero" at Arci's Place is a must see. Mr. Cuccioli has a
wonderful voice which he obviously cares for and continues to train. The couple sitting
next to this critic had come to Manhattan by bus from Allentown, Pennsylvania just to see
Robert Cuccioli. Before the show, one of them said to me, "I really hope he sings
"This Is The Moment." I neither encouraged nor discouraged her hope but as the
evening progressed I think she would not have minded if that wonderful Frank Wildhorn song
didn't get sung. She and the rest of the audience had experienced a gifted singer who had
graced each of us with amazing treasures. What we might have hoped for as we entered the
room gave way to new hopes, greater dreams, and even richer fantasies.
But Robert Cuccioli did sing "This Is The Moment" as his encore. Frank Wildhorn
is probably one of Broadway's greatest composers and certainly one of the theatre's least
appreciated artists. It is amazing that the press cannot honor him with the respect he is
due. Mr. Cuccioli honors Mr. Wildhorn and reminds of yet another unsung hero in his feast
Arci's Place is fast becoming one of Manhattan's premiere supper clubs with one of the
finest cabaret rooms in the entire City. Under the care of proprietor John Miller and
general manager Johnny Walker, everything about this restaurant and venue is top notch
from the time one enters until one leaves. It is the perfect place to see Robert Cuccioli
who will convince you no to let the hero that is in your soul perish. Miss this show and
you miss the opportunity to experience on of live theatre's finest performers.
Reviewed on Saturday, April 8, 2000.
ROBERT CUCCIOLI AT ARCI'S PLACE
Musical director, Jan Rosenberg. Bass guitar, Mary Ann McSweeney. Acoustic and electric
guitar, Jim Hershman. Director, David Wasson. Presented at Arci's Place, 450 Park Avenue
South between 30th and 31st Streets. Performance schedule: Tuesdays through Thursdays at
9:00 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. through April 29. There is
a $25.00 cover charge and a $15.00 minimum for all performances. For reservations
(strongly recommended!) call (212) 532-4370. For more information on Arci's Place visit
the websIte http://www.arcisplace.com/