Mark Nadler


Mark Nadler “Tschaikowsky (And Other Russians) “ July 8, 2005     Michael Morley

While Divas held centre stage for much of the first week of the Festival, the second week allowed two of the Festival’s divos to show their class. Andrew Lippa was the major featured composer/performer this year, with two shows devoted to compilations of songs from his various works, along with a performance of his musical John & Jen. In the midst of all this, he still managed to slot in a Masterclass on interpreting musical theatre songs, which was a model both of pedagogy and insights into the relationship between text and music. Not only students but professionals had their eyes opened to the essence of putting a song across, which is never about generalised or fussy emotions, but always about clarity in performance and connecting with the audience.

To go from this witty and instructive lecture-demonstration to Mark Nadler’s astonishing one-man show Tchaikowsky (and Other Russians) was to be reminded yet again of the versatility of figures like himself and Lippa. Taking as his starting point the Weill/Gershwin tongue twister which races through 48 Russian composers in not much more than a minute, Nadler gave a small but wildly appreciative audience a musical history lesson, a ridiculously casual yet virtuoso demonstration of the art of piano playing, some knockout interpretations of songs such as Sondheim’s Next and Porter’s I Concentrate on You, an account of Loesser’s The Ugly Duckling which put it in a completely new light, and a soft shoe shuffle and tap dance – all the while seated at the keyboard and keeping up a droll commentary on every one of the composers and their music. This was like Victor Borge, Leonard Bernstein and Tom Lehrer rolled into one and on speed: whatever it is Mr Nadler has running through his veins in performances such as this, and (with singer K.T. Nadler) the equally engaging celebration of the music of Jule Styne, Everything’s Coming Up Roses, I’d love a teaspoon of it.