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BWW Review: KIM DAVID SMITH: MOSTLY MARLENE is an Inspired Creation, Indeed, at Club Cumming

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Kim David Smith Pays Tribute to Marlene Dietrich

BWW Review: KIM DAVID SMITH: MOSTLY MARLENE is an Inspired Creation, Indeed, at Club Cumming

If you ever wondered what it would be like to time travel to the twilight world of Berlin between the two World Wars, that Weimar-era world of shadows and fog where nothing is quite what it appears to be, does Kim David Smith have a treat for you. His show MOSTLY MARLENE, which played at Club Cumming in the East Village this evening, pays tribute to the subversive world of The Blue Angel and to Marlene Dietrich herself. Along the way, Kim David Smith also gives a nod of his top hat to Madonna, Liza Minnelli, a touch of Mae West, and mostly to his personal diva, Kylie Minogue.

Smith doesn't impersonate Dietrich in any strict sense. Rather he channels her essence. Donning her trademark hat and tails, Smith, in fact, goes Dietrich one better as a man playing a woman playing a man. It is a Victor/Victoria trick where everyone is in on the ruse. This sort of androgyny is straight out of the Dietrich playbook, and Club Cumming is the perfect setting for it. The bar looks like a cross between a Beatnik coffeehouse and the set of Cabaret.

The wonderful, magical part is that Kim David Smith plays none of it for camp. He winks at the audience, to be sure, but the evening is an honest and loving tribute to Marlene, the world she inhabited, and the fans who adored her. He captures her signature style: the languid delivery, the fluid gestures, the almost predatory sexuality, and those breathtaking moments when she became so still and internal it was a little spooky. None of it feels natural, and that's precisely the point. Marlene Dietrich always let the audience in on the fact that they weren't watching reality, they were watching an inspired creation. Kim David Smith is inspired, indeed.

BWW Review: KIM DAVID SMITH: MOSTLY MARLENE is an Inspired Creation, Indeed, at Club Cumming

MOSTLY MARLENE is an encore performance at Club Cumming. The show opened at the club only days before Covid shut the city down in 2020. Smith has used the downtime to hone the show. In June, Smith did the show in his native Australia at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and in August it played at Club Cumming on the Coast in Kennebunkport, Maine. Tonight's version of the show was like a well-oiled machine, with all the jokes in the right places and all the songs landing with maximum effect.

Some of the highlights included several wonderful songs by Freidrich Hollaender, including " Black Market," "Ich Bin die Fresche, Lola," "Jonny, Wenn du Geburstag hast?," "The Man's in the Navy," and Dietrich's perennial signature tune "Falling In Love Again." He also sang the marvelous "Boys in the Back Room" by Frank Loesser. He was particularly effective in singing "I Should Be So Lucky" combined with "Illusions."

My favorite was his haunting rendition of "Look Me Over Closely." It was a particularly vulnerable performance. His Weimar treatment of Kylie Minogue's "In Your Eyes" was a treat. Of course, no tribute to Marlene Dietrich would be complete without a chorus of "Lili Marlene," which he gave us with great aplomb. He ended his show (not including the, as he put it "two compulsory encores") with James Eliot and Jemima Stilwell's "All the Lovers." Marlene Dietrich herself couldn't have put a better button on this gem of an evening. Kim David Smith, Bravo, and Brava!

BWW Review: KIM DAVID SMITH: MOSTLY MARLENE is an Inspired Creation, Indeed, at Club Cumming

For more information on Kim David Smith visit kimdavidsmith.com or follow him @kimdavidsmith on Instagram or @KimDavidSmith on Twitter. For other sows and events at Club Cumming, go to clubcumming.com.


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