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Review: HART'S DESIRE at Theatre Rhino

Mark Nadler's Hart's Desire

Review: HART'S DESIRE at Theatre Rhino

Award-winning entertainer Mark Nadler (2015 Broadway World Editor's Choice Award for Entertainer of the Year) blew into town for a brief 4-performance run of his new show Hart's Desire, a very gay imagined collaboration between Moss Hart and Lorenz Hart had they not been closeted in the 1930's and 40's. Utilizing Moss' dialogue and Larry's lyrics, what's truly unique here is that Nadler assumes every role, a nimble quick change presentation.

The two-time recipient of the Bay Area Critics' Circle Award for Tchaikovsky (and Other Russians) (2004) and His Lovely Wife, Ira (2010), Nadler asks the audience at the onset to imagine; imagine we're rich enough to invest in a show, imagine its 1943, imagine Nadler is a host of Broadway characters from a novice playwright, a ghost writer, a femme fatale leading lady of the theatre, her brash mother Stella and gay patron Owen Turner amongst others.

Nadler must create these characters using his voice and comic mannerisms -no small feat. Luckly, Nadler is adept at comedy among his many talents including his piano playing and tap skills. Nadler smartly includes many of Larry Hart's most famous compositions, wrapping them into the story to flesh out both the characters and his gay themes. Seems a few of the males are infatuated with Peter Sloan, writer of the play in question. "This Can't Be Love" and "Falling in Love with Love" become gayer in this context and why not?

Review: HART'S DESIRE at Theatre Rhino

All the characters are played as bold caricatures with exaggerated mannerisms like many a Hollywood comedy ala Cukor or Capra. Stella with her broad Brooklyn accent sings "The Lady is a Tramp" while another dame Althea sings "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." There's some lovely Lorenz Hart lyrics in tunes like "This Funny World," "Ev'rything I've Got Belongs to You" and "Disgustingly Rich."

The story follows the Boston preview performance of a new play and the angst and complications involved. Neurotic actors, anxious backers and assorted hangers-ons all add to the fun. The show needs some editing however and can perhaps be concatenated into a one-act. There's plenty of characters to follow which might be pared down. Nadler is a trouper with plenty of charisma and has a bright idea here for a long running enterprise.

Hart's Desire ran May 12-15, 2022.

Photo Credit: Helane Blumfield

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