KT Sullivan & Mark Nadler

The Siegel Column  Sep 9, 2005

Fields of Dreams

   Mark Nadler and KT Sullivan
Mark Nadler and KT Sullivan
KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler have become a brand name in classic cabaret. Their carefully crafted and sophisticated shows dedicated to the likes of The Gershwins and Irving Berlin combine the research and entertaining patter associated with stars such as Mary Cleere Haran and Andrea Marcovicci, while the duo's vocal styles and abilities -- not to mention the fact that there are two of them -- give KT and Mark a wide-ranging versatility that takes them far beyond the musical attributes of their competitors. They also have a wonderful chemistry together that exudes respect and affection. At bottom (and we don't mean Foggy Bottom, KT's hometown), they are consummate professionals who have developed a winning formula for presenting tributes to the legendary composers and lyricists who created the Great American Songbook. Their latest show, called A Fine Romance is devoted to lyricist Dorothy Fields.

Weaving insightful and charming patter into the show, KT and Mark go one step further and use their anecdotes to segue smartly into their songs. For instance, after informing us that Dorothy Fields had a particularly unhappy first marriage during which she never spent an entire night together with her husband, they launch into the sarcastic "A Fine Romance" with lyrics like "You're just as hard to land as the Isle de France/I haven't got a chance/this is a fine romance."

Ironically, in a show devoted to a lyricist, our two stars sometimes make the mistake of using Fields' lyrics from several songs as the raw material to create an arrangement for one number that finally does not respect what the woman they're honoring originally wrote. This kind of error is on display in their combination of "I Won't Dance" and "Never Gonna Dance." In the end, they aren't true to the greatness of either song. On the other hand, the combination of "I'm in the Mood for Love" and "Digga Digga Doo" is a bit of inspired fun. In other words, they're so good that they can sometimes get away with tampering with the work of their subjects. But their best efforts -- when they get the most out of Fields' work and their own talents -- are when they sing Fields' songs free and clear, like "I'll Try" and "Baby, Dream Your Dream." And it should be your dream to catch their show.

KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler have just opened the 25th season of The Oak Room at The Algonquin Hotel. Their show continues through September 24th.