Out cabaret star Mark Nadler is one of the greatest showmen of our time, capable of leaping from floor to piano bench, tap-dancing madly, singing and keeping steady eye contact with the audience – all this while playing a complex passage on the piano without even glancing at the keys. He’s done it in more than one of his shows. In his latest “Crazy 1961” he doesn’t tap dance, but he does play and sing with his usual virtuosic abandon, in a show constructed with his usual passionate intelligence. The result, tap dancing or no, is still pretty stunning.
Nadler packs over 61 songs and 61 newsworthy events into “Crazy 1961,” a celebration of the year of his birth. But Nadler doesn’t just shower us with random facts. There are always many layers in a Mark Nadler show, ranging from the obvious to unspoken subtext, which gives an “oomph” far, far beyond your typical cabaret show.
It doesn’t hurt that 1961 was, in fact, crazy: “The Music Man” and “Gypsy” ended long runs on Broadway while the Supremes made their first recording, Streisand her first television appearance, and Garland her legendary comeback at Carnegie Hall – Nadler points out that, for many of those reasons, it was a great year to be gay. This being one of Mark’s shows, that off-handed quip ends up reverberating in surprising ways.
The show evolves into a complex portrait of the exact place and time that Nadler was born, in exciting and ultimately moving ways. Every single song in the show is from 1961, and he finishes with a truly insane medley of fifty songs from the year. This is as giddily entertaining – and breathtakingly smart – as cabaret gets.
For tickets, click here.