Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

Ryan Engstrom: Songs of a Reluctant Sphinx
Society Cabaret
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's review of Becky's New Car and Richard's reviews of You Mean to Do Me Harm, The Roaring Girl, and A Night with Janis Joplin

Ryan Engstrom is an unusual talent. He is a local actor and singer, and recently made his debut at Society Cabaret in the Hotel Rex in a show titled Songs of a Reluctant Sphinx. He can be frisky and vibrant onstage, and the lyrics he sings come from a profound and distinctive emotion. Each bit of phrasing is carefully linked to an idea with clearness and enthusiasm. He has a voice reminiscent of Anthony Newley with a dash of the great Al Jolson thrown in.

When Ryan first came onto the stage, looking like a wonderful Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard, I knew we were in for a hell of a show. The artist sang sixteen songs ranging from the upbeat to the heartfelt, interspersed with the quirky story of his life—a roller coaster of kisses, zombie bees, and cowardly Egyptian lions.

The performer started out with the buoyant "Keepin' Outta Mischief" and segued into "When You Got It, Flaunt It." Then he gave a poignant reading of "A Sleepin' Bee" and belted out "Second Hand Rose." Ryan had pitch perfect resonance on emotional readings of "Love for Sale," "Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?," and "Moon River," and was sublime on Stephen Sondheim's "I Remember" from Evening Primrose before moving on to "Moonlight in Vermont."

A brilliant Russell Deason assisted on piano.

Ryan Engstrom was at Society Cabaret for one night only, June 16th, 2017. For a complete line-up at Society Cabaret go

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