KT Sullivan

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

In ''Everything's Coming Up Roses,'' a ferociously entertaining tribute to the composer Jule Styne, KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler, two dizzy throwbacks to old-time show business archetypes, join forces to become the Oddest Couple of Cabaret.

Both have flourishing solo careers. She's a perpetually fading comic bombshell, a Marilyn manquée who ambulates with a wide-eyed jiggle while wielding an improbable semi-operatic soprano. He's a frenzied, piano-banging, jabbering encyclopedia of show business lore who suggests a Frankenstein-like resurrection of Al Jolson, wired from head to toe with the voltage turned on high.

When they pool their zaniness, the dessert they cook up suggests an angel food cake spiked with double espresso. She calms him down; he wakes her up. In the show, playing at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, their rapport is so cozy they all but finish each other's sentences. Styne, who died 11 years ago at 88, was himself a gee-whiz enthusiast and an inexhaustible reservoir of brash show tunes, which he could crank out on demand in just minutes. His musical optimism suits performers who are much more comfortable having fun than when searching their souls.

Which is not to say that ''Everything's Coming Up Roses'' is without reflective moments. On the whole, the show is an energetic chronology of Styne's musical life and times that avoids sticky nostalgia. Songs from ''Gypsy,'' ''Funny Girl'' and ''Bells Are Ringing,'' as well as lesser-known musicals, are strung into inventive medleys and duets.

But when Ms. Sullivan croons a sweetly wistful version of ''People,'' standing beside the piano, it revolves around the words, ''We're children needing other children.'' The lovers who are ''very special people'' in the same song are seen as a more mature breed that this latter-day Peter and Wendy contemplate longingly from afar.

The same ingenuousness informs Mr. Nadler's version of ''Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend,'' sung from the point of view of a pauper who can't afford to lavish bling on his dream dates. The song, which follows his remarks on Styne's gambling habit, is the cleverest change of pace in a show that for all its giddy pleasure at living in the past never loses its head.” Stephen Holden, NY Times, 2005


Everything’s Coming Up Roses

KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler have pooled their considerable talents again in Everything’s Coming Up Roses, a new cabaret act at the fabled Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel that continues to warm and charm through Feb. 26. This time they’ve added Jule Styne to the list of legendary composers they have honored from coast to coast. Everything fits. She’s Lillian Russell in space shoes. He’s a cross between Danny Kaye and Chico Marx. Together, they create their own special elixir of musical mayhem. Satisfaction is guaranteed. In the dour cold of a Manhattan winter, that ain’t gefilte…

Unlike all those other girl singers who refuse to learn new songs, bubbly blond Floradora girl KT has devoted most of her adult life since she left Boggy Depot, Okla., to learning them all. She can croon "Never Never Land" from Peter Pan or knock the wind out of your sails with the showstoppers that Mr. Styne penned for Judy Holliday in Bells Are Ringing with equal skill and spruce. Mr. Nadler, who used to be merely an entertaining musical wacko, has gained so much self-assurance since he first started performing in New York bars that now, when he calms down long enough to sing a ballad, he can startle and touch you with the beauty of his husky lower register in a slow tempo like "Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend." Surprisingly, he tackles Lorelei Lee’s anthem for gold diggers everywhere, singing it as the tragic lament of a man who knows what kind of Tiffany rocks lead the way to a girl’s heart, but painfully aware that he can’t afford them. Sometimes he doesn’t even have to open his mouth. From the Scott Joplin–inspired ragtime piano on "Sunday," one of Mr. Styne’s earliest Tin Pan Alley tunes, to the gorgeous but seldom-heard love theme from the final, ill-fated Jule Styne show, The Red Shoes, Mr. Nadler is a whiz at the keyboard, too. Talk about longevity. With their two voices, her feathers and his piano, they can take this act to the moon and save money.

Their styles may be different, but they have only one goal—pure, no-frills entertainment. They love music, they think alike, their patter is so grafted along the same lines that they sometimes say the same words at the same time, and they adore the legends who wrote the American Song Book. God help us if they ever move to Vegas. Whatever would they do with a chorus line of naked dancers in spurs? In an intimate space like the Oak Room, they do what they do best, and the audience reaps the benefits. He still taps sitting down, but he’s grown suave and dapper on "The People in My Life," while she gets "People," the Streisand signature song that the producers of Funny Girl wanted to delete from the pre-Broadway tour. No ordinary girl singer would have the nerve to sing that one, but KT bravely makes it her own. She is one of the few ladies on the contemporary New York scene who would look right at home in a bustle. When Jule Styne died at 88, his wife Margaret said, "He just ran out of keys." Fortunately, KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler have found them again, along with a few lost chords of their own, and are keeping the great man’s reputation alive and swinging at the Algonquin with a simple strategy Jule Styne would heartily applaud: "Learn all the songs, and then sing out, Louise!"

Rex Reed, NY Observer, 2005


(Ladies of the Silver Screen) This sassy New Yorker via Los Angeles via Oklahoma struts brassily to center stage and launches into her own overture as if she owns the town. That’s how it’s done on Broadway and in Hollywood, and that’s what this show is all about.  KT Sullivan introduces her show as “some old songs, some older” and in an adorable patois of Pleasantville Americanese, takes us through a time warp back to the golden years of movie musicals from 1930 to the mid-1950’s.” Tony Love, The AustralianJune, 2003


(Scandals and Follies)…is a musical scrapbook whose selections are captioned by Ms. Sullivan’s revealing, often funny asides. Mx. Sullivan, whose singing stretches from a hard-bright Fanny Brice imitation to a fluttery semi-operatic register, flavors everything with a tongue-in-cheek attitude of wonder….Effervescent is the word.” Stephen Holden, New York Times, 2002


In (Scandals and Follies)KT Sullivan proves herself as vocally, comically, and theatrically assured as contemporary cabaret performers get. She also receives perfect support from the pianist and singer Larry Woodard, whose witty numbers nearly steal the show.” The New Yorker, April 2002.


(Harold Arlen Show) “…she conveyed a rare balance of insight and light-hearted pleasure.”  Stephen Holden, N.Y. Times, 2003


The 29-song opening medley alone is abundant with razzle dazzle. KT Sullivan and Larry Woodard are back on their perch at the refurbished Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, sailing through a bountiful parcel of tunes by the likes of Berlin, Coward, Arlen and the Gershwins -- the unifying theme is that all the songs originated in revues. 

Sullivan always strikes me as having just stepped out of her own time machine. The saucy soubrette mirrors those magazine covers of a radiant '20s Ziegfeld showgirl. In another life she most certainly was a Gibson Girl. Playful, naughty or seductively romantic, Sullivan's sweet soprano voice frames the songs with creamy clarity, refined allure and seductive warmth. 

Woodard is not only an exceptionally polished accompanist but also a mellow singer of the old supper club school. Think the late English saloon singer Leslie Hutchinson. Woodard contributes a few distinctive solo spots, including Cole Porter's "I'm a Gigolo," Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Harlem on My Mind," an Irving Berlin lowdown, uptown reflection introduced in 1933 by Ethel Waters in "As Thousands Cheer." Woodard's sass and silky sophistication beautifully complement the sleek Sullivan radiance. 

Formal dress is not required, even if this does happen to be the classiest show in town!” Robert Daniels, Variety, March 2001

"KT Sullivan is the cabaret equivalent of whipped cream atop a surprising nutricious dessert.  Behind her faux cupie doll naivete is a shrewd acting talent.  She's a comedian with a voice... a fusion of those classic not-so-dumb blondes, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Holiday." Stephen HoldenNew York Times, 2000 

"…the frisky and ebullient KT is radiant with showiz glow... she works the song, works the stage, and works the audience." Phillip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner

"quirky, quirky, quirky.  Depending on how the light catches her, KT Sullivan can resemble a fey, singing version of Goldie Hawn, or if you prefer a little more gravitas, a latterday Gertrude Lawrence."  Clive Davis, The London Times.

"The three biggest things in cabaret are KT's voice, and KT's...eyes.  It's hard to imagine the former, -- a rich, controlled soprano that's a revelation in full throat, and a provocation in a half-whisper -- arising out of Boggy Depot, Oklahoma.  As for the eyes, when she's joking around with her accompanist, she's Eddie Cantor; when she fixes them on some poor sucker at a front table, he's doomed."  Daniel Okrent, Fortune Magazine

"KT Sullivan, of course, is one of the finest cabaret/musical stage performers around --- musically bright and inspired by scholarship.: Michael Paoletta, Billboard Magazine

"…a well-established musical theater artist -- she played Lorelei Lee in the revival of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes -- Sullivan has a superb voice, capable of singing small, sweetly subtle passages and hard-hitting climactic high points, then switching to different character styles to suite the needs of each song... surely one of the fienst cabaret outings of recent memory... quality of the highest order."  Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times

"A near-perfect blend of humor and nostalgia," Stephen Holden, New York Times, January 1999.

"Sullivan's tribute to Noel Coward, Cole Porter, and Bart Howard sparkles brightly...one of cabaret's finest." Chip DeffaaN.Y. Post.  January 1999.

"In her sparkling new act, Noel, Coward, and Bart, KT Sullivan crafts fine pearls of wit, intelligence, and musical sophistication." Rex Reed, N.Y. Observer.  January 1999

"KT Sullivan is the perfect cabaret chanteuse with Barbara Cook's voice, Marilyn Monroe's aura of sexual innocence, Mabel Mercer's musical intelligence, and the witty innuendo of Mae West...Noel, Coward, and Bart is a clever assemblage of the best of three witty tunesmiths...as good as it gets." Gene Price, San Francisco Bay Times. May 1999.

"Sullivan has done copious research to create a fascinating and enjoyable journey through songs of Noel Coward, Cole Porter, and Bart Howard (the composer of 'Fly Me To The Moon' and other cabaret treasures)." Jim Van Buskirk, Bay Area Reporter, May 1999.