BWW Review: Nora Keeps IT'S CASUAL WITH NORA PALKA! At The Duplex Lite, And Funny, And Well… Casual
Heigh-Ho Friends & "Family"! Bobby Patrick your RAINBOW Reviewer here. Putting the silent T in CABARET to bring you all the T.
Let's get one thing straight... (uhhh... we mean clear,) right off the bat my darlings: Nora Palka is funny. She can't help it. She was probably born funny - one of those babies that knew how to coo and smile or even "fake cry" to get a response from the adults; one of those toddlers that took deliberate tumbles to make mommy laugh or that grabbed daddy's nose for a tweak to get a guffaw. From the moment she walks on stage with a hand full of roses that she quickly passes off to an unsuspecting front-row-seater with the instructions, "Do me a favor and make sure you give these to me when I'm done," she set the tone for her self titled Duplex solo bow, IT's CASUAL WITH NORA PALKA! When she kicks off with a rousing Janet Joplin-essque ME AND BOBBY MCGEE, you find out another thing about Nora: she's trained. That belt-y mezzo-y soprano-y, loud (but still lyrical) vocal thingy in her throat has been trained to make notes that are like bright light; they don't weigh a thing, but they sure do fill the room... in a big, brassy, trumpet-like way that soars without overpowering your ears, with phrasing and intonation that carry you from first note to last. That's training for you. If you go to her website www.norapalka.com (and we suggest you do) and take a look at her resume, after her boatload of regional theatre acting entries, at the bottom you will see the lists of all the acting and singing teachers she has had that back up her studies at London Dramatic Academy and her degree from Catholic University. Add to this her talents as a songwriter and you have her own very special version of a triple threat. Another thing you notice on Nora's resume is a surprising lack of New York credits. Born and raised in Washington, DC she set sail for NYC once she'd earned her Equity Card (Union Membership) in the regional theatres of the DC/MD area. She's been here 3 years now and, after experiencing this lady's brilliant talents live and up close, Bobby is left wondering - WTF?
How in the H-E double L-words has no one had the smarts to snap this tornado of talent up for a show? The vicissitudes (What?!? Bobby knows words!) of this business-of-show can boggle the mind at times. One would expect the plucky Palka to pull a Betty Buckley and have her first Broadway musical within hours of stepping off the bus. Sadly, not so for Nora and there's no good reason why. "That's show biz," says Mama Rose and sometimes thems is the conditions what prevail. So, 3 years in, what do you do to keep from giving up? You do everything you can to play your instrument for as many people as you can to keep it in tune. Though this is her first solo show in the venue, Palka has appeared at The Duplex before in a number of comedy/variety shows (told you she was funny.) She makes musical & comedy postings on her YouGOTTubes and her Instant-Grams - some with her boyfriend and onstage drummer Nathan Ellman-Bell. She writes music, she plays the rooms, and she auditions... That, my dearlings, is the life.
Clearly this woman has impressed your rainbow reviewer and I can go on and on raving, but that's gonna get boring real fast. For her show: the 4 covers and 6 original compositions - all expertly arranged for her and her voice by her music director/pianist Dan Garmon - all combined with her completely natural but still skillful comedic patter and loving connection with the room thrilled and delighted her audience. Being backed up by her BF drummer, and newcomer, the adorable Elmo Zapp (GREAT NAME!) on bass, Palka's standouts were her cool jazz rendition of SOMETHING'S COMING from West Side Story and her show's title song, IT'S CASUAL, which is also the title of her soon to be released EP. Nora will be singing at Rockwood Musical Hall on January 30th and we cannot recommend her highly enough. Hop a rainbow and go check her out.
Obviously, Nora's show entertained us so much that we hope her next steps will move her uptown a smidge to shows like Broadway Sings (at Sony Hall,) Susie Mosher's THE LINE UP at Birdland, and 54 Sings at Feinstein's/54 Below so she can get seen by those who can cast. That she sang wonderfully and made us all laugh makes for an enjoyable show. That she made us all (including little Bobby) want to be her friend and hang out with her while Palka Plucks her ukelele... well, that's magic my loves, and for that magic, we give Nora Palka a hearty 4 ½ rainbows out of 5.
Get Tickets to Nora At Rockwood: HERE