Powerful Pipes Cast Spell on Thrilled Fans
Columbus Dispatch
April 14, 2004
By Tracy Zollinger Turner
Andrew Lloyd Webber, what have you done? The king of melodramatic musicals may have been trapped inside theaters in Londonís West End and on Broadway for years, but the genre has broken out as a vehicle for classically influenced pop stars.

At 23, Josh Groban is its leading man. Propelled by an appearance on Ally McBeal in 2001, he has since been Charlotte Churchís singing partner at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics, appeared on the family-friendly portion of the Super Bowl pregame, was a requested performer at Oprahís 50 th birthday party and has sold more than 5 million records. He is Donny Osmond Giovanni.

At his packed performance at the Ohio Theatre on Monday night, it was hard to focus between the rolls of smoke spilling from the sides of the stage and a wide screen that sometimes featured projected unusual images.

But swirling lights werenít the attraction. Groban was. The New York Times called him "The New Boy Wonder of the Voice."

A woman in the audience put it this way: "You sing, baby!"

He shows off his pipes in English, Italian and sometimes Spanish with an incredible range that looks effortless. But with romance-novel lyrics such as "When the setting sun surrenders to the moon, Mi querida, I wait for you," the songs may be best in whatever language one understands the least.

His fans apparently would be happy to hear him sing nursery rhymes in Urdu, as they screamed "I love you, Josh" dutifully between songs, and gave him at least four standing ovations.

Sniffles could be heard during the you-done-me-wrong song Broken Vow.

Perhaps the most charming thing about Grobanís stage presence is the sheer improbability of his status as a romantic figure.

His brotherly face is a shock of pale skin against dark hair, and he has the self-conscious carriage and vanilla humor of a young, semi-hip fifth-grade teacher.

When he spoke, his voice barely resembled the powerful one that had just been shaking the gilded paint off the walls.

"Iím so goofy tonight, I donít know what it is," he quipped. "I had a Pixy Stix before the show."

Groban was backed by a fine band and small orchestra, highlighted by violin player and up-and-coming star Lucia Micarelli.

Barefoot and clad in a blazing red dress, she was given a few chances to play solo to great applause, including an annotated version of Queenís Bohemian Rhapsody.