Mark Steven Wellen: Broadway 1978

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Mark Steven Wellen

Broadway 1978

The Triad, NYC, August 26, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Mark Steven Wellen

Mark Steven Wellen is a charming fellow with a pleasant tenor voice who came up with a delightful concept for a cabaret show: to do one song from each musical playing on Broadway when he arrived in New York City in 1978. Unfortunately, the execution was lacking.

The song list itself was quite interesting, mixing wonderful standards from the revivals of the season—“I Have Dreamed” (The King and I)—to forgotten gems from contemporary shows—“Hard Candy Christmas” (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)—to total obscurities; when did anyone ever hear a song from Oh! Calcutta! presented in a cabaret space? Some were welcome rediscoveries (“Hey There, Good Times” from I Love My Wife) and others really could easily remain forgotten—“My Magic Lamp” from the dire rewrite of Kismet—(Timbuktu). Two songs about dancing also appeared, though “I Wanna Be a Dancin’ Man” (featured in the revue Fosse) fits the performer’s voice much more comfortably than “The Music and the Mirror” from A Chorus Line.

But the issue of the evening was not that there were any vocal limitations; it was that the songs were presented one after another with no comment or personalization.

Why these particular songs from these scores?

How do they reflect who Wellen was then or now?

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The only song he expressed particular enthusiasm for was “When I’m 64,” drawn from the concert show Beatlemania; the rest are just paraded across the show without any particular effort or effect.

Music Director Doug Martin provided solid support throughout.

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Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."