Mark Nadler: Cole Porter After Dark

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Mark Nadler

Cole Porter After Dark

The Cabaret at Germano’s, Baltimore, MD, March 1, 2019

Reviewed by Michael Miyazaki for Cabaret Scenes

jpg” alt=”” width=”212″ height=”212″ /> Mark Nadler
Photo: Maryann Lopinto

After opening his Cole Porter show with a medley of “Let’s Do It” and “Let’s Misbehave,” Mark Nadler observed that the material in the show was 50- to 90-years-old, and he asked, “Why are these songs so relevant, even still?” He initially posited that they give great advice to men on how to woo women and launched into “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.

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Nadler’s set explored the various aspects of Porter’s oeuvre—the expected clever list songs, such as “You’re the Top”; a medley of the Paris Porter; and the yearning ballads such as “Wake Up and Dream” and “What Is This Thing Called Love.” Nadler also performed “Begin the Beguine” using a South Seas beguine rhythm. 

His narration of the show, with insights based both on deep research and long experience performing the material, was always compelling, even to someone well aware of the biographical details. A particularly moving moment was his description of Porter, who was in residence at a Venetian palazzo with his wife, gazing out the window at his visiting male dalliance, and his writing early into the morning which led to Nadler’s quietly passionate rendering of “In the Still of the Night.

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Nadler is a compelling performer who effectively entertains a crowd and guides them through his ideas in a show. As a singer-pianist, he takes unique advantage of the ability to support his musical ideas with instant changes of rhythm or musical quotes.

For example, his version of “Can-Can” uses the traditional tempo of the dance with interpolations of Offenbach, a Middle Eastern figure for camels, Strauss, and “tinny” music representing sardines.

Unlike other singer-pianists, Nadler often dislodges himself from the piano—standing in front for extended patter breaks, playing from behind the bench à lá Jerry Lee Lewis, doing the can-can (while still playing), or taking his final bow standing on top of the bench.

He concluded his set with a medley of “At Long Last Love” and Porter’s last song, “Wouldn’t It Be Fun.” He prefaced the medley by highlighting many contradictions in Porter’s character—the Midwesterner who became a symbol of urbanity; a homebody who loved to travel; the man devoted to his wife while yearning for men.

Nadler’s final answer to his opening question of why Porter’s work remains relevant today is that it speaks to the eternal contradictions in every one of us.

Michael Miyazaki

Michael Miyazaki is a Washington DC/Baltimore area-based performer, director, and writer. He has performed at various venues in the DC area, and his most recent show is Thanks for the Memories: The Musical Legacy of Bob Hope. He has appeared with numerous local theater troupes including Scena Theatre, the Source Theatre, and Fraudulent Productions. He has attended the Perry-Mansfield Cabaret Workshop (working with master teachers Andrea Marcovicci, Karen Mason, Barry Kleinbort, Christopher Denny, Shelly Markham, and David Gaines), and has also studied under Sally Mayes, Tex Arnold, Lina Koutrakos, Rick Jensen, Amanda McBroom, and Alex Rybeck. He is the creator of the blog The Miyazaki Cabaret Update: DC & Beyond (currently on hiatus) and is a member of the DC Cabaret Network and the Arts Club of Washington.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. chuckiepie

    It’s Fabulous to see Mark Nadler still Knocking Them Dead, after All These Years. Mark is the Muhammed Ali of Cabaret — He’s The Greatest!

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