By Mary Ann Bourbeau
MIDDLETOWN – By day, Rob Kevlin works as a speech pathologist. But he has another side to him, one that will be showcased as he celebrates the release of his CD, “It’s a New Day,” at Feinstein’s 54 Below in New York City Friday, Feb. 22. Appearing with Kevlin will be Tony and Grammy Award winner Jennifer Holliday, best known for starring in Broadway’s “Dreamgirls” and the 2015 revival of the musical, “The Color Purple.”
“She’s a very accomplished lady,” said Kevlin. Among the songs they will sing is a duet of “Somewhere” from “West Side Story.”
“We’re doing the Barbra Streisand/Josh Groban arrangement,” said Kevlin. “Jennifer will also sing her big signature song, ‘And I am Telling You I’m Not Going.’”
Kevlin, 35, grew up in Holmdel and lives in Middletown. He said he has loved singing ever since he watched “Star Search” as a child. He performed in high school musicals and talent shows and trained at the Monmouth Conservatory of Music. But once it was time for college, he settled on a more stable path. After earning his master’s degree in speech-language pathology, he left New Jersey to attend chiropractic school in Florida.
“I drove down there and then realized it didn’t connect with me,” he said. “I left after a few days. It was horrible. I had taken all those classes and prerequisites and I felt lost, like a failure. I had to do a lot of soul searching.”
Back in New Jersey, he began performing in musical theater, starring in “Jekyll and Hyde” and “The Sound of Music” at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan. In 2013, he performed with the Igor Butman Moscow Stage Jazz Orchestra, which is when he developed a love for the big band sound.
A family member suggested he pursue singing, so Kevlin found a recording studio in Edison and made an album of Broadway songs, Great American Songbook standards and originals. Since he is of Russian descent and speaks the language, he decided to send the CD to a Russian radio station in New York. A woman there hooked him up with big band vocalist Kathy Jenkins, who helped him stage an off-Broadway cabaret show at the Triad.
“From there, other things started to blossom,” he said.
In the past few years, Kevlin has performed at numerous venues throughout New York and New Jersey and is excited to stage his CD release at 54 Below.
“This is Broadway’s premier supper club,” he said. “It’s a pretty big opportunity.”
Kevlin has put together a show that includes Jenkins, two background singers and four musicians. He plans to sing a few Frank Sinatra songs, including “Fly Me to the Moon” and “My Way,” along with Broadway hits “This is the Moment” from “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Soul of a Man” from “Kinky Boots” and “This is Me” from the film “The Greatest Showman.”
“I saw ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ in high school and I was so blown away by the music,” he said. “I listened to that record over and over again and now I’m performing it in this legendary venue.” Tickets are $35-$70. For more information, visit robkevlin.com or 54below.com.
Arts and Entertainment writer Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached at email@example.com.
This article was first published in the Feb. 21-Feb. 27, 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.
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