Mark William: Come Croon with Me

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Mark William

Come Croon with Me

The Green Room 42, NYC, November 14, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Mark William

When Debbie Gravitte, Jerry Mitchell, Harvey Evans, Vivian Reed, David Hyde Pierce, Lee Roy Reams, and Marilyn Maye assemble in a cabaret audience, it suggests something big is happening. In this case, it was the solo cabaret debut of crooner Mark William. (“They say you always remember your first time,” he sighed.

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) The very youthful, handsome singer charmed with mostly songs of the 1960s—not the ’60s of the British Invasion but the ’60s of Steve Lawrence (one of his favorites) and Frank Sinatra. He did venture forwards and backwards in time, but the sound was consistently of the “swinging” decade.

William shared pertinent details of his youth in Ohio with his fixation on three movies: Meet Me in St. Louis, Bye Bye Birdie, and Li’l Abner. The influence on his style as a performer is obvious, and he is in total command of that style. He clearly enjoys paying tributes to his heroes, the aforementioned Lawrence (when was the last time we were offered a Golden Rainbow medley?) and a Peter Allen medley. Actually, the show had an abundance of medleys, the type where the lyrics of one song leads to the next—“Come Live with Me,” “Come Fly with Me,” “Blue Skies,” “From This Moment On.

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” Later came a themed one with “Bewitched,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “You Do Something to Me,” “That Old Black Magic” and “Witchcraft.”

The medleys were cleverly created and smoothly delivered, but they do point to the one problem with the show. Rarely did the songs reveal anything about the singer. William was sweetly open in his patter, but when the music started it all became rather impersonal. Not that he wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics or exhibiting a love for the material. But the one time he happily showed an emotional connection to the lyrics was the quietest moment in the show with a mix of “Moon River” and “Ebb Tide” in a simple, haunting rendition, while sharing a lovely memory about duetting with his mother.

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Another freer moment was his duet with special guest Klea Blackhurst on “You’re Just in Love,” where he seemed under the inspiration of his free-wheeling partner. Hopefully, maturity and experience will lead to more such sequences.

Musically, William received excellent support from music director/arranger Clint Edwards, drummer Jonathan Ward, bassist Sam Zerna, guitarist Jernej Bervar, and trumpeter Andrew Wagner.

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."