Vinny St. Marten will put a smile on your face. I guarantee it.
The singer, composer, performer, musician and all around charming star of THE BLIND TRUTH, which closed this week at the Dream Up Festival at Theater For The New City in the East village is an extraordinary performer and storyteller with a beautiful big voice and an autobiographical tale that is full of colorful characters and the kind of surprises that would make for a great movie. As he describes it, it's a one man show with two people... the other being long-time friend, collaborator, accompanist, and fellow performer,Alysa Sunshine (what a great name!).
The "blind" in the title refers to Vinny himself, who has been blind since the age of 6 and shares the stories of all the efforts his mother made to restore his eyesight, from surgeries to religion to even the hope that tv evangelist Oral Roberts could somehow make a miracle happen by way of the television set. It's a story filled with emotion, love, and comedy, but most of all, with strength and preserverance. He eventually lost all his eyesight but gained so much more and now shares it.
Mr. St. Marten moves through the small set, as he does through his life story, with ease and a confident demeanor that earns him the appreciation of his audience almost immediately. He tells his story with songs, some original pieces and some standards, verse, and a conversational style that makes you feel like you've been friends for decades. As a storyteller, he jumps into characters with ease and changes his voice in ways that surprise.
All the time, by his side, lending her talents and support in the form of music and an equally wonderful voice is Alysa Sunshine. The two work off each other perfectly and Ms. Sunshine clearly provides a beacon of light and anchors many strong and emotional moments. When they sing it is pure magic. The two met back in the 70's when Alysa auditioned for Vinny's band and wowed him with some outstanding renditions of Ray Charles. They recreate that audition and it's no surprise he hired her on the spot. They've been together ever since.
"THE BLIND TRUTH" is not so much about being vision impaired or handicap, but quite the opposite. Vinny is Vinny. He tackles life in his own style and this is a story about the challenges that life presents and the surprises and discoveries we make along the way.
I loved this guy. He is authentic, down to earth, and a positive force with an equally positive outlook. The show may have ended this festival run, but I hear that it will be back in some incarnation and if so you should see it, as I happily will too.
Visit their website at www.vinnystmarten.com for future dates and more information.