Thursday, April 3, 2014
In one of my former lives, I actually had a job I rather enjoyed. It was being a Cabaret hostess for AMTF's (Former name of the Prince Theater) Cabaret series at the Bellevue hotel. It was a glam job. I got to dress up, introduce the performer and spend time in an elegant and sophisticated setting. Not to mention, free desserts and champagne!
During those halcyon days, I met John & Robert, two cabaret enthusiasts who attended the series regularly. We had an acquaintance then, but got to be friends later, when coincidentally, I joined the same church where they were already members.
When the opportunity came up to see Mark Nadler's show at The Prince - I'm A Stranger Here Myself, I thought it would be fun to have either John or Robert write the post about the show, which opened on Wednesday April 2 and runs til April 12, 2014.
John decided to take the reigns, and here's his review:
The Wiemar Republic may have known the most exuberant, wide open time in history, and New York Cabaret performer Mark Nadler sings, talks, prances, plays piano and interacts with audiences to bring that excitement, comedy, parody, satire and debauchery to life.
I'm A Stranger Here Myself: Musik From the Wiemar and Beyond is Nadler's latest show. In it he performs songs that were sung in German cabarets and tells stories about the people who wrote them and in so doing he recreates the magical and sinister Berlin underground that flourished from 1919 until Hitler's rise to power in 1933. These cabarets were places of artistic and sexual freedom, created by people who were labeled "degenerates" - outsiders who were struggling to find a place for themselves and populated by all possible combinations and permutations of humanity. Jews wrote and performed many of the songs, and there was open gay sex in many of the clubs despite the fact that homosexual acts had been outlawed since 1871...and citizens of Berlin flocked to them.
The songs tell the story: Bilbao Song (Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht) set the mood, I'm A Stranger Here Myself (Weill and Ogden Nash) established the mindset, Schickelgruber (Weill and Howard Deitz) is a laugh filled satire about a not yet powerful public figure, The Lavender Song (Spoliansky and Schwabach) is about Gay life. Nadler supplies the setting and the anecdotes about an often familiar, cast of characters. The set recreates a German Cabaret and its rear wall is constantly being filled with photographs of the people being discussed. Nadler's piano is supplemented by Vena Johnson-violinist and Rosie Langabeer-accordionist. ...and the things we are told about two well known songs from the period provide a deeper significance to their lyrics: By Myself (Dietz and Arthur Schwartz) captures the "all alone" feeling of so many of these outsiders and My Ship (Weill and Ira Gershwin) summarizes their yearning to some day belong.
Unfortunately, the opening night audience was modest. This show truly deserves a bigger audience.
John Simpson is an amateur musician who in retirement spends an inordinate amount of time and energy attending live musical events, especially cabaret.
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