BWW Review: Don Scardino Brings Musical Chops and Tales from his Illustrious and Hilarious Career to Feinstein's/54 Below in NOTHING TO HIDE
They say, in life, it's all about who you know. Luckily for Don Scardino and his audiences at his two shows at Feinstein's/54 Below on February 18, he has friends in very high places.
The show, Don Scardino WITH John Miller: NOTHING TO HIDE, was Scardino's first at the cabaret venue, and the seasoned performer, director, and musician brought a welcomed (though not-so-fresh) air of breezy yesteryear listening--- along with salivating showbiz tales, of course.
Scardinos's illustrious career spans performances in Broadway's GODSPELL and KING OF HEARTS, direction of the original productions of A FEW GOOD MEN and LENNON, and, currently, direction on television's UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, and beyond. He was able to effectively incorporate his past with his present performing original selections "Sunshine Kid," "Hey Hey What a Beautiful Day" and "Dreams," on each of which he provided vocals and guitar. The tunes were, again, nostalgia-tinged, evocative of The Grateful Dead-era, which actually, in turn, felt slightly subversive in this usually musical theater-attuned venue.
Scardino did perform a few songs from the realm of theater, though, including acoustic versions of "In a Simple Way" from I'M GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER AND TAKING IT ON THE ROAD and MY FAIR LADY's "Wouldn't it be Loverly?" Both numbers showed off an entirely other layer of both his musical sensibilities and capabilities.
Performing either self-penned tunes or covers, solo or with accompaniment from Miller on piano (who's currently at work on Amazon's musical series MOZART IN THE JUNGLE), Scardino was at once charming, remarkably talented, and hysterical, proving in no uncertain terms how he's managed to accumulate so many impressive friends over the years.
And I reiterate: those friends. Highlights included a haunting performance by Tony nominee Elizabeth A. Davis, singing a selection from a new musical she is developing alongside Scardino called Indian Joe, and a take on the always moving "Stand By Me," which Scardino performed with the iconic Paul Shaffer.
The evening's most memorable moment, though, came from Scardino's television past. Composer Jeff Richmond and Tony winner Jane Krakowski, both of whom worked with Scardino on NBC's 30 ROCK, took to the stage to perform an original number from that series with him: "Just Give a Kidney." The song, which was written as a sort of "We Are the World" charity parody for one of the show's characters to get a kidney for his father, includes the lyric, "This country has 600 million kidneys / And we really only need half," and had the entirety of the audience feeling as though they themselves may have impaired an organ or two from such rigorous laughter.
The song was, like Scardino's show as a whole, musically ambitious and funny enough for an audience to nearly forget its concurrent brilliance--- almost, that is.