By Sandi Durell
Of course, we’re all aware that Mark Nadler is the epitome of Razzle Dazzle – an entertainer’s entertainer – a quadruple threat (sings, dances, acts and plays piano) – a man of great creative thought.
It’s the creative thought behind his latest show entitled “The Old Razzle Dazzle: an evening of Lies, Lying and Liars” that reminds us that Mark Nadler is no ordinary entertainer; he’s one of a kind and brilliant.
In this carefully woven theme, Nadler puts his stamp on and makes a personal statement about the current state of our union. Is it all an “Illusion” (Friedrich Hollander), a “Blizzard of Lies” (Dave Frishberg/Samantha Frishberg)? Sprinkled with “as Dorothy Parker once said” witticisms (or were they just lies?), the show unfolds asking and answering thought provoking questions as it builds to an explosion.
Songs sung to us as children, which we sang to our children and continue to sing to our grandchildren – “The Tooth Fairy Song” (Bart Jennett); “Look Out for Mr. Stork” (Frank Churchill/Oliver Wallace); “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” (Steve Nelson/Jack Rollins); “Santa Clause Is Coming Town” (J. Fred Coots/Haven Gillespie) and more . . . Are we telling purposeful lies to children, sugar coating myths or perpetuating the sweetness and innocence of childhood memories of generations? I prefer to think the latter.
The on-going references to past Presidents and politics are the real essence of the “lies, lying and liars” and, yes, “Ya Got Trouble” (Meredith Wilson) real trouble not only in New York City, but in the country and the world. Our personal relationships are suffering and who better to explain it than Francesca Blumenthal in the “Lies of Handsome Men” – as Mark notes in his reverent and passionate portrayal.
The theme piles up, higher and higher, as do the lies (no matter what side of the fence you sit on), as do the songs that responded to and reflect the generations: the blood and guts of “The Great Pretender” (Buck Ram), Jerry Herman’s “I Don’t Want to Know,” or the oh so clever Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick’s “Little Tin Box” ( Fiorello), giving Nadler another opportunity to show off his talents singing all the roles.
Peppered with stories ranging from Hitler to Pia Zadora to Jews, Rock n’ Roll and Elvis, Ragtime and propaganda, Nadler more than makes his point about the elephant in the room punctuating with a driven tap dance choreographed by Germaine Salsberg to Kander and Ebb’s “Razzle Dazzle.”
It’s a breathtaking conception and statement that needs more than a cabaret space. This is a theatrical endeavor and here’s hoping Mr. Nadler is exploring the possibilities.
Photos: Jeff Harnar
Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 West 42 Street, NYC www.westbankcafe.com
www.marknadler.com – May 9, 2019
The Old Razzle Dazzle will be performed June 8 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre