Mark Nadler: Harts’ Desire

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Mark Nadler

Harts’ Desire

Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYC, June 25, 2022

Reviewed by Ron Forman

Mark Nadler
Photo: Helane Blumfield

I always knew that Mark Nadler was an immensely talented entertainer. He sings, plays the piano, and even tap dances with great pizzazz. But I was unaware of his talents as a playwright and dramatic actor until I witnessed Harts’ Desire, which he conceived and performed at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. The show is a one-man, two-act play with eight characters all portrayed by Nadler using different voices and with Mark accompanying himself on piano. The characters range from a raven-haired femme fatale, to a young playwright, to a street-tough producer.
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In each case, Nadler used an appropriate speaking voice, and when required, an appropriate singing voice.
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The title of the show is clever and very appropriate because by thoroughly studying the plays of Moss Hart and the songs of lyricist Lorenz Hart, Nadler has used Moss’ words as the dialogue and the songs of Lorenz for the musical numbers.

The first act is set in 1943 in a luxury suite in the Boston Ritz-Carlton hotel prior to a preview of a new show. Act II takes place in the same suite after the preview. Moss Hart’s words perfectly describe the anxiety and tension that occur before the preview as well as the tension and jubilation that happen after the preview and before and after the reviews come in. Nadler got a very big laugh when, after reading a glowing review, he said, “It can’t all be a typographical error.”

There are 20 songs with lyrics by Lorenz Hart (all but one with music by Richard Rodgers), some well-known and others obscure, but they all are relevant to advancing the story. Some of the best musical moments are “The Lady Is a Tramp” (performed by a bluesy former vaudevillian), and “Everything I’ve Got Belongs to You” (sung at a super-fast pace as a duet) with Nadler amazingly going back and forth between the voice of a female Ice Capades star and that of an Ice Capades producer, a much older man. Especially moving was Nadler’s emotionally performed “I’ll Tell the Man in the Street,” sung by the young gay playwright after telling his boyfriend that he can not be a part of the celebration of the play’s success.

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.