Dan Thaler: These Are the Days

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Dan Thaler

These Are the Days

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, May 16, 2024

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Dan Thaler

Dan Thaler asserted the present in his opening number “These Are the Days” (Ben Cullum); it featured a gentle rock arrangement and his laid-back tenor with its melting high notes. This was a major show for him; it’s his cabaret debut made 14 years after he had departed from a long career in opera. He welcomed the packed house into his new home, and he rewarded the audience with an ingratiating smile. Under the fine direction of Tanya Moberly, and the expert assistance of his music director/pianist Ian Herman, bassist Jerry Devore, and drummer David Silliman, Thaler detailed his not-always-easy upbringing and his discovery of love with compassion and forgiveness, both of which easily won over the audience.

Thaler’s choice of songs throughout was wonderfully appropriate, and they constantly shifted in mood and style. “Tonight, New York City” (Rick Jensen) was filled with poetic images and worked well to introduce for his story. “I Wish It So” (Marc Blitzstein) was delivered with such gentleness that it thrilled, and “In Dreams” (Roy Orbison) had a wild, tropical musical arrangement that was great fun. Sung against a bolero accompaniment, “Smoke and Mirrors” (Wally De Backer) was hypnotizing. The wide variety of his song choices added genuine vitality to the evening.

This was a highly personal show that told the story of his problematic life. Much of it dealt with his longing for home and family and as shown in his somber, honest interpretation of “Where the Streets Have No Name” (The Edge and Bono). The financial issues of his childhood were illuminated with the classic “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” (Jay Gorney/E.Y. Harburg), and though he had a tempestuous relationship with the grandfather who raised him, he paid him a lovely tribute with “Something Wonderful” (Rodgers & Hammerstein).

Happily, love also came into Thaler’s life, which he celebrated with “Make Someone Happy” (Jule Styne/Betty Comden & Adolph Green) in which he brought real conviction to the lyric. He discovered a new family as he declared in “We Found Love” (Calvin Harris). Although it didn’t last, he seemed not to regret that it had happened, and he displayed beautiful phrasing in “Where Do You Start?” (Johnny Mandel/Alan and Marilyn Berman), which was blended with “My Favorite Year” (Michele Brourman/Karen Gottlieb). Thaler brought so much honesty and so many emotions to his show that it had real impact. Smartly he brought the evening full circle with audience participation on “Those Were the Days” (Gene Raskin).

Dan returns to Don’t Tell Mama Thursday, June 20 at 7pm and Saturday, June 22 at 2pm.

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."

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