KT Sullivan & Mark Nadler

New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com   Howard Kissel
Fine Styne salute
is coming up roses

Thursday, February 10th, 2005

Jule Styne, who wrote some of the greatest songs of the 20th century, worked with an unusually diverse group of lyricists, from Leo Robin ("Bye, Bye, Baby") to Stephen Sondheim ("Small World") to Comden and Green ("Never Never Land") to Bob Merrill ("People") to Sammy Cahn (the many songs made famous by Styne's former L.A. house-mate, Frank Sinatra).

In their Algonquin Oak Room tribute to Styne on the centenary of his birth, KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler do a wide range of Styne songs, from the soulful to the theatrical.

At first glance, Sullivan and Nadler are an odd pairing. Her song readings tend to be offhand, almost conversational. He has an energy bordering on maniacal. But they complement each other beautifully, bringing out the inherent wit and beauty in these treasured songs.

They perform several songs that are not familiar but deserve to be. Two numbers from "Sugar," the 1972 musical based on "Some Like It Hot," which he wrote with Bob Merrill - "Penniless Bums" and "The People in My Life" - are both "finds."

Nadler, a fabulous pianist who has done the musical arrangements, has woven songs together elegantly. At times, he sets the keyboard afire. At others, he recedes into the background so their voices blend smoothly, as in "Time After Time" and "Just in Time."

Sullivan provides fascinating background material about the composer, who started as a child prodigy in London.

She performs "I'm Going Back" from "Bells Are Ringing" with all the necessary gusto. Nadler does "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" as if it were a philosophical soliloquy.

The two do a dynamite job celebrating a composer who is hardly undersung but may be underappreciated.