EXCLUSIVE: 'Eyes Wide Open' at Café Carlyle, Cheyenne Jackson Sets Sight Gags on Gaga, Gershwin and Gay Marriage

By Maria Jean Sullivan on Jan 22, 2015 08:40 PM EST

With Eyes Wide Open on the Upper East Side, Cheyenne Jackson gave a personal, but laughable rundown of his life the past few years. Pulling from familiar tunes as diverse as Lady Gaga, the Gershwin Bros., Satchmo and even a bit of Elton John and Joni Mitchell, indeed, his math was good: tragedy + time = cabaret gold.

Be it getting gay married-cum-getting gay divorced, chemical sobriety, the equally sobering loss of both his grandparents or a wild cross-country sojourn even Reese Witherspoon would blush at, Mr. Jackson unloaded all kinds of baggage (and LOLs) on Woody Allen's home turf.

He dedicated his rendition of the ol' Elton John/Bernie Taupin emo ballad "Your Song" to his new bæ, John Landau, whom he met two years to the day sitting across from him at an AA meeting. To his right, on piano, was musical director Willy Beaman, the talented 25-year-old buck of Demi Lovato fame; no, Mr. Beaman could not have smiled any harder.

Accompanying the two was a pocket-perfect rhythm section of Vancil Copper on drums and bassist Michael O'Brian.

Have at it, yourselves, Classicalites...

Giving a decidedly PG-rated stab at Consuelo Velazquez's "Besame Mucho" and deeper Elvis cuts like "Teddy Bear" and "Follow That Dream," at times, Jackson's hypersexual Glee did sound a bit watered-down for the Carlyle diners--lest not, a none too shy hip gyration. (OK, maybe two.)

The touching, self-composed tune "Red Wine is Good For My Heart," an ode to his late grandmother Alberta Mae, struck a still more sympathetic tone:

"You are still with me / Make this dark day depart / Pouring my passion for you / So I won't feel a thing," he crooned sadly.

After a poor attempt at a fake exit, Jackson finished strong, if predictable, with Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World." What I didn't see coming, though? The few bars of the Scots "Auld Lang Syne" mixed in for taste.

Cheyenne Jackson's two-week engagement, Eyes Wide Open, marks the 30 Rock "star's" Café Carlyle debut and opens the vaunted establishment's winter season.


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TagsCheyenne Jackson, Eyes Wide Open, Cafe Caryle, Lady Gaga, Louis Armstrong, Alcoholism, Gay Marriage, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Elvis, Duke Ellington, George Michael, Joni Mitchell, EXCLUSIVE