POWER OF THREE Broadway Veteran, Newport-Raised Cheyenne Jackson Returns to Spokane to Sing from His Trio of Concert Shows - a 'Mad Men' Tribute; a Classic Movie Roundup; and a Reimagined American Songbook

By Lamberson, Carolyn | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), May 18, 2014 | Go to article overview

POWER OF THREE Broadway Veteran, Newport-Raised Cheyenne Jackson Returns to Spokane to Sing from His Trio of Concert Shows - a 'Mad Men' Tribute; a Classic Movie Roundup; and a Reimagined American Songbook


Lamberson, Carolyn, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


Cheyenne Jackson is good at putting on a character.

Whether he's getting "All Shook Up" on Broadway, being seduced by Liz Lemon on TV's "30 Rock," or fighting against an airplane hijacking in the film "United 93," he is an actor audiences have come to rely on.

Now, however, he finds himself interested in doing something else on stage. Something that doesn't involve getting in character.

He wants to be himself.

"I thought maybe I can do this... and actually be myself on stage and express myself through music, but not have a character to hide behind," Jackson said in telephone interview last month from New York City.

He captured the concert bug from celebrated singer-pianist Michael Feinstein, with whom Jackson performed at Carnegie Hall and recorded an album, "The Power of Two."

"It started small, then it became its own beast," Jackson said, "but a beast blessing because I've been able to perform at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center... and Disney Hall."

He's been doing cabaret shows and concert performances for about three years. On Tuesday, the Spokane-born, Newport-raised Jackson will get on a Spokane stage for the first time since the 20th century was on the wane and sing a show dedicated to the Great American Songbook.

As he's touring the country, he has prepared three concert lineups. One is a tribute to the "Mad Men" era. Another he calls "Hello, Gorgeous!," of classic movie music. Then there's the Songbook show.

"I decided for the Spokane market to do a combination of all three shows because really they're all in the same milieu," he said. "I really just relate to the 'Mad Men' and James Bond style of music. There are just endless possibilities. So it was up to me to create a show that was linear, that made sense, that was fun to listen to, that was fun to sing, that had a beginning, middle and end."

It'll be more than Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme. Backed by the Spokane Symphony Orchestra at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, Jackson also will perform classic Broadway show tunes, a couple originals - he released a solo album last year called "I'm Blue, Skies" - and even a song by Amy Winehouse.

"So it's not your typical night of Gershwin, even though that would be beautiful," Jackson said. "It's my own sensibility, and I come at things a little differently. I do lots of different arrangements - I do a Joni Mitchell song, but it's arranged by Diana Krall.

"It's important to me to respect the American Songbook and keep the integrity of it, but there's a younger generation that doesn't know this music."

His aim, then, is to re-imagine these classics while still paying tribute to the original style. "It's been a nice hybrid," he said, "and people have responded."

It is, perhaps, appropriate that Jackson is drawn to this older style of music. "My music teacher in Newport, Mark Caldwell, always said, 'You were born in the wrong era,'" Jackson said. "My voice lended itself to the older style of music and these classic songs."

FROM SPOKANE TO NEWPORT TO BROADWAY

Cheyenne David Jackson was born to David and Sherri Jackson on July 12, 1975, at Deaconess Hospital, just a few blocks from the site of Tuesday's homecoming concert.

He was raised in the Newport area and performed in high school productions of "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Li'l Abner." After graduating from Newport High School in 1993, he moved to the big city - Spokane - to try his hand at acting.

Among the shows he was in are "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "H.M.S. Pinafore" at Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre, "Kiss Me, Kate" and "Kismet" at Spokane Civic Theatre, "Carousel" for the now- defunct Spokane Theatrical Company, and "Godspell" for Rossi Productions out of Coeur d'Alene.

"It was a great time," he said. "Those were the formative years when you're growing up and learning how to be on stage and to own your space. Really just the basics.

"Those are the times you learn the most. …

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