"This show should be called Love, Loss and What I Wasn't Wearing," Cheyenne Jackson joked from the stage of the Cafe Carlyle, where he presented his first solo show at the esteemed nightclub.
Titled Eyes Wide Open, the 70-minute show detailed the intimate aspects of the last few years of Jackson's life, including a Broadway show that closed just after it opened (The Performers), a struggle with alcoholism, a divorce and finding sobriety, a new relationship and new outlook on life.
Jackson, who has appeared on Broadway in Finian's Rainbow, Xanadu, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Aida, opened with "Stand By Me," followed by "A Foggy Day in London Town" and a sultry rendition of "Besa Me Mucho."
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," he said, quickly adding, "I just wrote that before the show!" Jackson detailed his disappointment when The Performers abruptly closed and his sadness following the death of his grandparents. He then performed a passionate rendition of Elton John's "Your Song," followed by an original number he wrote in honor of his grandmother, "Red Wine Is Good For My Heart," which he declared she frequently said to her family. Jackson shared how deeply the loss of his grandparents affected him, with one spouse's death quickly following the other.
Reminiscing about his childhood in what he called "Hippie Hollow," where his family did not have running water for several years, as well as his two goats, named Harmony and Melody, Jackson recalled seeing a touring production of Les Miserables for the first time and his decision later in life to move to New York, which he said was inspired reflection following the death of his niece and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. After describing the first role he originated on Broadway in All Shook Up, he performed a medley of Elvis songs, followed by a jazzy rendition of "I Get Along Without You Very Well/Don't Get Around Much Anymore."
He joked about landing a standby job at his first audition, saying that while many asked if he had paid his dues, he always responded by saying that he didn't have running water as a child, therefore, he had paid his dues.
Jackson then accompanied himself on piano for Lady Gaga's "The Edge of Glory," explaining that he had always been too scared to play the piano and sing in front of an audience. A jazzy rendition of "Kissing a Fool" followed as well as a deeply personal performance of "Falling Slowly" from Once.
He concluded the evening with Joni Mitchell's "A Case Of You," followed by "What A Wonderful World" and "Auld Lang Syne."
Jackson was joined by his musical director Willy Beaman (piano), Vancil Cooper (drums) and Michael O'Brian (bass).
Jackson performs through Jan. 24 at the Cafe Carlyle. Visit rosewoodhotels.com for more information.