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"Street of Dreams"

"Street of Dreams" is a fine platform for a genuine talent.

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Somewhere between Walter Matthau and Tony Curtis, but more versatile than either, is James Naughton. Having problems with one-man shows, I got to his Street of Dreams rather late in the game, but you still have till April 11 to join the fun at the Promenade Theatre.

It is 90 minutes of song and chatter, admirably managed, even if, like me, you are not bowled over by most of the songs; it is the uniqueness of the delivery that counts. Some performers mostly play up to the audience; some perform mostly to please themselves. Naughton is one who does both, equally and easefully. Both audibly and visibly, he relishes what the spoken or sung words are saying, and his manner is loose and relaxed. But in his smile, there is the faintest sign of concern, for you, for himself, for his craft.

Naughton's baritone is mellow, yet not without the appropriate bite when it's called for. At times, oddly, he sounds like a little boy in the process of discovering how tasty a vowel can be, and trying to suck it all into himself. But the very next sound is generously shared, and the anecdotes from his life are immensely likable. His five-piece band, captained by John Oddo at the piano, goes all out for him. And so, I think, will you.


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