The Siegel Column Mar 21, 2006
"In the world of cabaret, the team of KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler has become known for sophisticated, entertaining cruises through the ocean of music known as The Great American Songbook. These two regularly drop anchor in the musical harbors of such well-known islands of brilliance as Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, and Jule Styne. Their latest excursion on the good ship Oak Room, the aptly named A Swell Party, takes us to the port of Cole Porter.
Unlike their earlier shows, which were steeped in amusing and engrossing biographical bric-a-brac, this one focuses more directly on the music. Particular attention is focused on Nadler's often elaborate arrangements, which take full advantage of the sensational sax playing of Loren Schoenberg and the beautiful bass work by John Loerke. Indeed, one of the show's high points is a lighthearted dash through "You've Got That Thing" in which Shoenberg offers a sax riff to replace the words "that thing" at the end of each phrase.
Sullivan and Nadler don't treat the material like museum music; their performances of the various songs are vibrant and full of fun. Playful numbers like "Kate the Great" and "Well, Did You Evah?" sparkle like just-uncorked champagne. At the other end of the emotional spectrum, serious songs such as "Wake Up and Dream," "So in Love," and "Get Out of Town," are also given their full due."