Nathan Lee Graham: All Things Bright and Beautiful

Nathan Lee Graham

All Things Bright and Beautiful

The Green Room 42, NYC, October 11, 2018      

Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes

Nathan Lee Graham

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines singular as “being out of the ordinary: unusual.”

Nathan Lee Graham, full of expressive magnetism, is indeed an anomaly. While he spends time in this showcase extolling talents he finds truly singular, including the evening’s sole composer—Stephen Sondheim—it’s Graham’s individuality in both artistry and persona that makes for a remarkable evening.

Simply put: Graham does what he wants, when he wants.

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There’s his overly rolled Rs and impeccable diction (with a mid-Atlantic accent that sounds right out of the MGM finishing school). There’s the flashy but classy ensemble he slinks around in as he owns the stage, itself dressed with vibrant accoutrement. And the arrangements, courtesy of top-notch MD Tracy Stark, are unexpected and original.

His voice has a rich bottom end, particularly evident in a bossa nova “Love I Hear,” and his vibrato teeters between shimmer and rapid-fire shot gun, at times recalling Eartha Kitt.

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His physicality also alternates between economical restraint and expressive abandon, particularly in his hands, which seemingly have a mind of their own. Of course, there’s the brazen persona which could be an easy distraction from Graham’s dexterity as an actor.

But it’s his interpretations that have the most lasting effect.

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Graham presents the situations, almost conversationally with his audience, yet never comments on them. “Good Thing Going,” free of any cheap sentiment, cuts like glass with chilling stillness.

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A driving “There Won’t be Trumpets” comes alive with assured bravado. And “Could I Leave You?” cements Graham’s mastery in its sardonic playfulness. It’s this fiery and sly combo that reverberates on a theatrical level, typically difficult to put over in a cabaret room, that Graham winningly achieves.

With the docket consistently full of performers who seemingly seek the approval of their audiences, what a relief it is to experience an artist who eschews endorsement. And it’s this quality, bright and beautiful in itself, that makes Graham truly singular.

Randolph B. Eigenbrode

Randolph is the newest addition to the writing staff at Cabaret Scenes. He is a cabaret teacher, previously teaching with legend Erv Raible, and his students have gone on to success in the field with sold-out shows and many awards. He is also a director and that, combined with a knowledge of the art form and techniques that cabaret performing encompasses, makes him love reviewing NYC’s cabaret scene. When not catching the Big Apple’s crazy talent, Randolph loves 1970s variety shows, mall Chinese food, Meryl Streep films and a good cold glass of pinot grigio.