New Jersey Stage

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A dynamic duo brings Gershwin back (to stay) at Pollak Theatre

(WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ) – "I've Got Rhythm"; "Summertime"; "Strike Up the Band"; "S'Wonderful";

Need more? "Shall We Dance"; "They All Laughed"; "They Can't Take That Away From Me"; "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off."

Better yet, let's all agree that the sibling songwriting partnership of George and Ira Gershwin comprised one decidedly dynamic duo. Writing for Hollywood, Broadway and the concert stage, the two brothers built bridges between the popular entertainment vernacular of their era and American symphonic music at its most inspirational — conquering Carnegie Hall by way of Tin Pan Alley.

The Gershwin songbook has served to bring out the best in some of their fellow musical duos,  long after George Gershwin's too-soon death at the age of 38 — twosomes like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong; Judy Garland and Dick Haymes, not to mention Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

On the night of November 5, 2010, another great duet act brings the 20th century's greatest songbook legacy to life, as KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler come to the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University with their hit-packed program Gershwin...Here to Stay. Joined onstage by Chicago jazz pianist Jon Weber, the two top cabaret artists  — who, together and separately, have also paid tribute to the works of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and many others — strike a "Sweet and Lowdown" balance between the Gershwin canon (including George's instrumental classics) and their own prodigious interpretive talents.

An actress, recording artist and award-winning cabaret performer who's performed regularly at the Oak Room of NYC's Algonquin Hotel (as well as "top rooms" on three continents), KT Sullivan has been likened to "whipped cream atop a surprisingly nutritious dessert," with a vocal style celebrated for "caressing Gershwin ballads with tenderness."

A one-of-a-kind talent known for his near-acrobatic piano playing, comic exuberance and an astonishingly encyclopedic command of the Songbook (and the people who wrote it), Mark Nadler intersperses his vocals with displays of tap dancing, along with entertaining facts from the life of Gershwin. Nadler and Sullivan have previously pooled their Gershwin passions for the off-Broadway revue American Rhapsody, as well as the cabaret show Sweet and Lowdown (a duet that featured a re-enactment of the entire Astaire-Rogers film "Shall We Dance").

The 8:00 p.m. November 5 performance of Gershwin...Here to Stay is preceded at 3 p.m. by a Songwriting Workshop, presented in Room 135 of Howard Hall (off the Pollak Gallery) on the West Long Branch campus, and hosted by Sullivan and Nadler. The concert co-stars — both recognized as experts on the great songwriters, and the American songwriting tradition — will discuss the qualities of a classic song, and will offer a critique of written work presented by aspiring songsmiths. Separate admission to this event is available for $10, and there's no cost for admission to anyone who holds a ticket to that evening's show.