It’s a win-win for ‘George Salazar & Joe Iconis: Two-Player Game’ at Feinstein’s/54 Below

Everyone was a winner in George Salazar & Joe Iconis: Two-Player Game, a series of six reopening-week shows at Feinstein’s/54 Below, playing June 17-24. Both brought their A-game to “Broadway’s living room,” masterfully performing a set list of original showstoppers from their signature cabaret concert and eponymous album (released on Ghostlight Records in 2018), interspersed with hilarious banter that revealed their long-time personal camaraderie, shared sense of off-beat humor, and sincere respect for each other, after being apart for nineteen months. So not only did they score big as an unbeatable team of outstanding musical-theater talents, but their audiences were also big winners in this spectacular but intimate evening of songs and stories.

Known to millions of followers worldwide for the musical sensation Be More Chill – with music and lyrics by Iconis, and starring Salazar as the sensitive but uncool high-school student Michael Mell – the two joked about everything from the beginnings of their working relationship to Iconis’s imaginary twins and Salazar “going Hollywood” with his move to LA and his new blond hair tips, then got serious about their mutual love of the theater and performing live on stage. Through it all, they made their fans feel a part of the conversation, directly addressing the audience and acknowledging the very audible, effulgent, and well-deserved ovations they received for their engaging repartee and natural comic timing.

George Salazar. Photo by Shoshana/@bwaySHO.

And then there were the songs. Salazar’s ever-astonishing lead vocals captured all the richness of Iconis’s words and music with profound emotion, understanding, and beauty, in performances that combined his extraordinary skills in both singing and acting, fully inhabiting the characters and their narratives (“mostly about misfits,” Iconis noted) with his eloquent intonations, facial expressions, and body language. He also showed his considerable abilities as a drummer, on the funny “Tiny Short Little Song” and “The Vagabond.”  The inimitable Iconis contributed perfectly tuned duets, harmonies, and back-up vocals, and provided spirited piano accompaniment throughout, bringing all the passion and meaning to his performance that he creates in his songs.

Joe Iconis. Photo by Shoshana/@bwaySHO.

The selection included favorite numbers from an assortment of shows, among them the heartrending “The Goodbye Song” and “Broadway, Here I Come!” (heard on the TV series Smash), “The Answer” (from his musical The Black Suits, with Salazar keeping a percussion beat on the cajon), the wild “Song of the Brown Buffalo” and “Kaboom” (from The Untitled Unauthorized Hunter S. Thompson Musical), and “I Love Play Rehearsal” and the iconic “Michael in the Bathroom” (from Be More Chill), which elicited the most enthusiastic cheering, clapping, and enduring love from the audience (composed of many young fans and families on the night I attended) from its first two unmistakable notes.  The thrill of seeing and hearing it close-up, in the warmth and proximity of the cabaret space (after being performed on the big Broadway stage and viewed millions of times on the internet), was unparalleled. I, for one, am still ecstatic.

George Salazar and Joe Iconis. Photo by Shoshana/@bwaySHO.

The closing night of George Salazar & Joe Iconis: Two-Player Game is, of course, sold out, but next time the opportunity arises to see it, or them (it’s been a recurrent event at Feinstein’s/54 Below), be sure not to miss it – for the win!

[For additional photos, visit Shoshana/@bwaySHO].

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Deb Miller
Deb Miller (PhD, Art History) is the Senior Correspondent and Editor for New York City, where she grew up seeing every show on Broadway. She is an active member of the Outer Critics Circle and served for more than a decade as a Voter, Nominator, and Judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. Outside of her home base in NYC, she has written and lectured extensively on the arts and theater throughout the world (including her many years in Amsterdam, London, and Venice, and her extensive work and personal connections with Andy Warhol and his circle) and previously served as a lead writer for Stage Magazine, Phindie, and Central Voice.


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