Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

The music of Gwen Verdon fills Don't Tell Mama in Judi Mark tribute show.

Lovely Judi Mark recently concluded a brief run of her Gwen Verdon show MERELY MARVELOUS at Don't Tell Mama, where a nicely-sold house of audience members was thoroughly engaged by the tribute show. The program (fully titled MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF Gwen Verdon) focuses on the music that the legendary Broadway star created during her lifetime, even though Ms. Mark, herself, has a long history in dance, which informs her love of the multiple Tony Award recipient. Touching briefly on the dance aspect of both of their lives during the act, Ms. Mark also managed to throw in some delicious dance moves during one number, but, for the most part, she stuck to the songs. Songs from Sweet Charity, Redhead, Chicago, Damn Yankees, and a few other sources like television appearances and recordings were what Judi Mark wanted to put in the spotlight, and with the help of director Jeff Harnar, Musical Director Ian Herman, and bass player supreme, Ritt Henn, Judi is in good hands.

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

A new show for Ms. Mark, Merely Marvelous is sweet and entertaining and it's nice to hear someone talk about Verdon's song catalogue and her work as an actor because, much of the time, that which people remember her for is the dancing. But Ms. Mark reflects back on her own life, on the similarities in their mutual lives, and how Verdon's artistry, so, resonated within Judi's life. With this collection of songs (some with some clever new lyrics to make them more appropriate for Judi's story) and stellar backup from the band, Judi sounds good, sometimes displaying a quite powerful belt, and other times showing an ability with some of the softer, more sensitive, moods of the music. Full of appeal and sincerity, Ms. Mark knows all her lyrics - a relief in an industry where more and more people are reading their lyrics during their shows - and, more than that, she knows where she's going. Judi has worked with her director on a script that allows her a comfortable story arc, and she and her team have also worked on making cuts to theatrical numbers being pared down into a solo song. The work on the truncation of the songs is good, though the team might consider taking another look at the "Funny Honey" number from Chicago because Ritt Henn's performance as Amos Hart began to overpower Judi, in character as Roxie. Henn and Mark do, though, have a delightful duet as the characters Lola and Applegate, making "Two Lost Souls" one of the evening highlights.

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Other highlights from the evening are ones where Judi Mark's acting ability shows - the "Roxie" monologue from Chicago fits seamlessly and enjoyably into a fine rendition of the famous number, and a performance of "Where Am I Going?" from Sweet Charity was a spot-on acting moment for Judi, who paid a heartfelt tribute to the late Tex Arnold, her one-time musical director, who did the arrangement. It was clearly important to Judi Mark to get that into the show and Mr. Harnar guided the moment with finesse and dignity - but he has guided Judi well throughout the entire show, especially during two fun numbers -"A Little Brains, A Little Talent" and "Feelin' Groovy," both of which show off that Judi Mark is a quite playful lady (sometimes playfully flirtatious), one whose presence warms that heart.

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

As a new show, there is some tightening up to be done, but it isn't much. There are times when it feels like the script isn't quite in Judi's muscle memory yet - not the songs, because she has got those down, to the letter. There are just times when Ms. Mark seems to be searching for her next line, but those are all times spent sharing Gwen Verdon's life story. When speaking about her own life, Judi Mark speaks as though she were hanging out at the bar (or the barre) with friends, and that's because she doesn't need a script to tell those stories - she already knows them. When recounting the stories from Verdon's life, there are facts and trivia and the like to remember, and nobody wants to go out on stage and get that stuff wrong... but it would behoove Judi to remember that the audience isn't going to test her - they are there for her, there to support and love her, and when that next line doesn't want to come, it's ok. It'll come the next time. Other than these few awkward moments of memory loss, Judi comes across as nice and natural - with a little more study and rehearsal, those stories will be as easy as the ones about her own life.

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Judi Mark and her musical cabaret are both charming, likable, and very reminiscent of a quality of benevolence once possessed by Gwen Verdon herself. If all her audiences respond the way tonight's audience did, she could have a series of encores on her hands.

Judi Mark MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF Gwen Verdon has concluded its current run but other great shows can be found on the Don't Tell Mama website HERE.

Visit the Judi Mark website HERE.

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Review: Judi Mark Honors Her Idol In MERELY MARVELOUS - THE SONGS OF GWEN VERDON at Don't Tell Mama

Photos by Stephen Mosher; Visit the Stephen Mosher website HERE.



The Work of Erin J. Riefler & Zonia, Tsang Lok Sze to be Featured in WOMEN OF THE WING Photo
The work of Erin J. Riefler and Zonia, Tsang Lok Sze will be featured in Women of The Wings Volume 5 - March 4th at 54 Below.

Liana Hunt, Brynn Williams & More to Celebrate Valentines Day at 54 Below Photo
54 BELOW will present A Broadway Valentine’s Day on February 14, 2023 at 7:00 and 9:30pm. The 7:00pm performance will also be livestreamed.

Taylor Iman Jones to Celebrate Her Birthday With 54 Below Solo Debut in March Photo
54 BELOW will welcome Taylor Iman Jones for her solo debut. The star of Head Over Heels and newest queen in SIX celebrates her birthday on March 6th while she reflects on her career, love, heartbreak, and life.  

FIFTY KEY STAGE MUSICALS Starring Len Cariou, Kevin Chamberlain, Lee Roy Reams & More  Photo
FIFTY KEY STAGE MUSICALS is now being given a one night only concert with the artists who helped create these monumental musicals at 54 Belowwhich will also be live streaming the event around the globe on Wednesday, February 8th, at 7:00pm EST.


From This Author - Stephen Mosher

Stephen Mosher is the author of The Sweater Book (a collection of his photography featuring celebrated artists from the entertainment communities of New York, Los Angeles, and London), Lived In Cra... (read more about this author)


Amanda McBroom and Ann Hampton Callaway Will Play DIVALICIOUS For Three Nights at 54 BelowAmanda McBroom and Ann Hampton Callaway Will Play DIVALICIOUS For Three Nights at 54 Below
February 1, 2023

What happens when two award-winning singer-songwriters get together to put on a show? You get DIVALICIOUS, that's what.

Tim Connell Will Encore ...AND SO IT GOES... at Pangea on February 17thTim Connell Will Encore ...AND SO IT GOES... at Pangea on February 17th
January 31, 2023

Esteemed and oft-praised musical cabaret storyteller Tim Connell produced three shows last year. His final show of 2022 will now be a show for 2023.

Photos: Chris Ruetten Documents January 24th THE LINEUP WITH SUSIE MOSHERPhotos: Chris Ruetten Documents January 24th THE LINEUP WITH SUSIE MOSHER
January 30, 2023

It's another photo flash of Susie Mosher's weekly variety show, this time by Chris Ruetten.

Review: Andrew Barth Feldman Comes Of Age With BARTH MITZVAH BOY at The Midnight TheatreReview: Andrew Barth Feldman Comes Of Age With BARTH MITZVAH BOY at The Midnight Theatre
January 30, 2023

We all knew Andrew Barth Feldman was a gifted artist... but THIS gifted? Surprise!

Karen Akers Debuts Bob Levy and Alex Rybeck Composition MY SISTER AND BROTHER AND IKaren Akers Debuts Bob Levy and Alex Rybeck Composition MY SISTER AND BROTHER AND I
January 30, 2023

Singer-songwriter and filmmaker Christine Lavin saw something that inspired her and, now, there is a new Karen Akers video in the world.