Theater/Cabaret Review (NYC): Ben Rauch is Horace Vanderveer

Ben Rauch is Horace Vanderveer!!! Sounds corny, but this (mostly) one-man cabaret act is funny, sweet, and irresistibly entertaining. A superb singer and showman, Rauch puts all his talents into his never-say-die character – a struggling actor and Jersey boy with oversized teeth, a blindingly sunny attitude, and a resume – dotted with misspellings – filled with understudy roles with the likes of the Temple Shalom Players.

Utterly convinced of his superior talent and Broadway destiny, the unfailingly optimistic Horace gambols from center stage to the piano to the xylophone and back, supported by an excellent four-piece band and his own faintly absurd charisma. Tying together his numbers with funny bits of “autobiography,” Rauch uses the Horace character both to convey his love for Broadway musicals and to spoof them. Never breaking character – Horace speaks in a silly accent, something like a pastiche of Hollywood-Austrian, Low Countries, and Dr. Evil – Rauch/Horace convincingly works into his storyline a series of Broadway showstoppers from a variety of hit shows like Annie Get Your Gun, Godspell, Wicked, and Les Miserables. (His xylophone transcription from Rent is priceless – and I don’t even like Rent.)

Running about an hour and 20 minutes, the show has just the right length (and spunk) for a family audience. In fact Horace has a gaggle of teenage girls backing him up on stage during several numbers. Ben Rauch wrote the show himself, along with Melissa Rauch and Winston Beigel. Director Miles Phillips keeps the action nonstop, making it a crowd-pleaser all the way.

Reserve now – there are only two more chances to catch this show: Dec. 10 at 9 PM and Dec. 15 at 2 PM. At the Laurie Beechman Theater in the West Bank Cafe.

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