BWW Review: Hidden Cabaret Presents Mark Nadler - RUNNIN' WILD: SONGS AND SCANDALS OF THE ROARING '20s
Heigh-Ho, My Merry Rainbow Tribe! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in cabareT to bring you all the T...
Well, my dear ones, Bobby is always up for a good revival and Monday Night at The Secret Room brought us just that. Reviving their "New York Cabaret's Greatest Hits" series after the tragic loss of the Metropolitan room and a three-year hiatus, Stephen Hanks and Jeffrey Hamblin wisely chose a sure thing for their G-HITS premiere at the Secret Room, home to Hidden Cabaret. Mark Nadler has stalked the cabaret stages of NYC for 25 years or more bringing us his big top clownery, music to die for and stories to amaze and amuse one and all. That Nadler is a big personality on stage is the understatement of this New Year. Blowing into the space like a Dorothy Gale-force wind, the title of his show - RUNNIN' WILD: SONGS AND SCANDALS OF THE ROARING '20s - becomes blisteringly apparent. In his white dinner jacket, black tie and toting a violin case he jokingly menaces the audience like Machine Gun Kelly. What was actually in the case would be revealed later in the show.
So what is the show, you may ask - the show is Mark. He is the show, the show is him and SONGS AND SCANDALS OF THE 1920S is merely the vehicle to deliver Mark to his adoring audience - an audience that goes with him wherever he plays. Mark is an unparalleled musician and singer whose piano playing is a true phenom and his vocals are some of the finest, smoothest, and richest you will here in our Cabaret's these (or any other) days. I am also reliably told, he is quite the hoofer, a talent that was NOT on display with SONGS AND SCANDALS, sadly, because we all know... Tappy Make Me Happy. Mark's performing style is an energetic torrent of humor, big gestures, and uber gay campery that appeals to a crowd for all their love like a manic Danny Kaye, which might get old if it weren't for all the talent that backs it up. Mark is, in fact, an old-world night club musical comic that is there to put on a show for one and all giving everything he has with volume that "Goes to 11." Volume, however, was an issue on the night as Mark loves to jump up from behind his piano for his storytelling, leaving his mic behind and making his audience (especially at the back where we were) adjust to his unamplified voice. Now, don't get Bobby wrong here, Nadler can project as well as any performer and anywhere else this could be perfectly fine, but the space at The Secret Room, acoustically, would challenge an un-miked Merman. Nevertheless, Nadler puts forth his stories with verve and panache and cultured theatrics; each story rehearsed, each line measured, each lengthy pause planned, all of his come-hithers to his audience like an inebriated party guest who has been invited and then made it his mission to entertain one and all. A party that everyone will remember years after and say, "Remember that time Nadler got to the piano..."
His love of the Roaring 20s is apparent in his encyclopedic knowledge of the songs, the era, the people and their stories. Telling tales from Drag legend Jean Malin's brawl in a bodega in full lady's evening wear to Aimee Semple McPherson's "abduction" mixed with Clara Bow's Heroine addiction all the way through Libby Holman's wild party that cost her husband his life, Nadler so enjoys the story-telling, and the theatrics of it all, at times he fails to realize that it can be a long long way to his happy(ish) endings. The payoffs at the end of his stories do make it worth it, but at 2 hours traffic of his stage, he could stand to pick it up a bit. All of his tomfooleries are hung on a beautiful trellis of songs from the 20s which he performs with relish and accomplished musicality. He sings LET's MISBEHAVE to invite us all in to hear the antics of WILLY THE WEEPER, MINNIE THE MOOCHER, & MACK THE KNIFE. He croons LOVE FOR SALE, BODY & SOUL and goes dark with LIME HOUSE NIGHTS.
All of it was monstrously wicked and silly and unfortunately, we had a good time... Oh, and what was in Mark's violin case? See the show the next time he performs it and find out because Bobby gives Mark Nadler's - RUNNIN' WILD: SONGS AND SCANDALS OF THE ROARING '20s a solid 3 ½ Rainbows Out Of 5.