UPI INTERNATIONAL SEPTEMBER 7, 2005
Cabaret duo salutes lyricist Dorothy Fields
By FREDERICK M. WINSHIP
NEW YORK, Sept. 7 (UPI) - When a singing duo paired in heaven makes an
occasional joint cabaret appearance, as K.T. Sullivan and Mark Nadler are
doing for three weeks at the Hotel Algonquin's Oak Room, there is reason for
Sullivan is a peaches and cream enchantress whose seductive style and
svelte figure snugly costumed in a coral sequined gown recalls the generous
charms of Gay Nineties' music hall singing stars. Nadler, nattily clad in a
white jacket worn with a coral cravat, is the unconventionally handsome
singer-pianist who often accompanies Sullivan but also is a cabaret singer
of unbridled effervescence.
In a new show called "A Fine Romance" they are given equal billing as
singers, and it is to their credit that neither attempts to upstage the
other in their highly polished, perfectly meshed presentation of American
musical classics with lyrics by Dorothy Fields. It is their salute to Fields
on the centennial of her birth, and it marks the opening of the 25th fall
cabaret season at the legendary Oak Room.
Fields, who died in 1974, was unique, described by Sullivan as "the only
woman member of the all-male club of songwriters" of her era and as gifted
and witty as any of her confreres. She was the daughter of Lew Fields, a
famous vaudeville comedian who became a Broadway producer, and sister of
Broadway musical librettist Herbert Field, with whom she often collaborated
in the 1940s and 1950s on shows such as "Annie Get Your Gun" and "Up in
Central Park" and on Hollywood films.
Sullivan and Nadler have chosen songs representing Dorothy Fields's
successful collaborations with such disparate Broadway composers as Jimmy
McHugh, Morton Gould, Jerome Kern, Arthur Schwartz, Oscar Levant, Albert
Hague, and Cy Coleman. They named their show after Kern's evergreen song
about a sexless courtship from the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie, "Swing
Time," that is possibly a reflection of Fields' own unromantic marriage to a
However, McHugh gets the lion's share of attention from the performers
with seven songs out of the 22 that make up their program. They open with
the composer's most enduring song, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and
close with his equally upbeat "On the Sunny Side of the Street." "I Can't
Give You Anything But Love" is also included in an inspired medley with "If
My Friends Could See Me Now" by Coleman and "Pick Yourself Up" by Kern.
Sullivan is at her best in the bittersweet song about obsessive love for
an uncaring man, McHugh's "I Must Have That Man," and another song of
regret, Kern's "Remind Me." Her lilting, slightly breathless soprano is a
delight, as are her comic double takes, and her talent for witty banter that
makes her a good match for the irrepressible outbursts of the hyperkinetic
He gets to show off his flashy keyboard style in accompanying himself in
singing McHugh's amusing novelty song, "Digga Digga Doo" and to demonstrate
his ability to master the tongue twister lyrics devised by Fields for
Hague's cockney classic, "Erbie Fitch's Dilemma" from the musical starring
Gwen Verdon, "Redhead." But when Nadler sings McHugh's "I'm in the Mood for
Love," he can endow the song with deep, ecstatically felt emotion.
Fields's last great collaboration was in 1966 with the then neophyte
composer, Coleman, on "Sweet Charity," another Verdon vehicle. Sullivan and
Nadler's joint rendition of "Baby, Dream Your Dreams," a song from that show
about blasted romantic hopes, is one of their finest accomplishments as duo
artists who are without any question at the very peak of their careers.
"A Fine Romance" will run at the Oak Room through Sept. 24.