Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mark Nadler!

"Play it cool boy, real cool."
-West Side Story, 1961 (film)

 Happy Thursday!

My friend Ervin Drake wrote the Frank Sinatra classic, It Was A Very Good Year. 1961 was a very good year. West Side Story swept the Academy Awards that year. My favorite song, Moon River, won the Academy Award in 1961. How To Succeed In Business was the big hit on Broadway AND won the Pulitzer Prize.

As Mad Magazine pointed out on its cover for the March 1961 issue, this was the first "upside-up" year—i.e., one in which the numerals that form the year look the same as when the numerals are rotated upside down—since 1881.
51 years ago tomorrow, January 6th, 1961, John F. Kennedy was elected the 35th President of the United States.
The cold war continued to worsen with the USSR exploding some very large bombs during testing and then masterminding the building of the Berlin Wall separating East from West Berlin, America sent a battle group to Germany and Americans and Russians Glared at each other across the border, due to this uncertainty many Americans built backyard fallout shelters in case of nuclear war. To make matters worse the Americans financed anti-Castro Cubans for an invasion at the bay of pigs which was an unmitigated disaster. 
The Soviets put the first man in space , Yuri Gagarin followed by the US in May with Alan Shepard. 
Popular music included Chubby Checker's “Pony Time” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles, and top movies included "West Side Story" and "The Parent Trap.” The Year 1961 From The People History



Also in 1961, I was born on February 11th. 8 months later, Mark Nadler was born. Our paths were destined to cross.
Dominic Meiman , Mark Nadler, myself, Sondra Lee
I first encountered Mark Nadler at The Five Oaks on Grove Street. For those of you who never experienced The Five Oaks, it was THE happening place in cabaret in the 80s.It wasn't so much a cabaret room as it was THE place to go to. It was ALWAYS packed every Saturday night and almost packed every night throughout the week. With Marie Blake at the piano, EVERYONE was welcome. And EVERYONE was treated with respect...no matter how eccentric.


I remember vividly the night that a tall lanky whirlwind tapped his way into the room. These weren't ordinary tap shoes. They were sequined glittery sneakers. After he commanded the attention of the packed room, he sat down to play the piano. Liberace and Jerry Lee Lewis with a little Jerry Lewis thrown in for good measure! I was blown away by his performance. If I am correct, I think that was around  1985. 27 years later, Oy! Is that possible? The sequined tap shoes have been replaced with the most tailored suits and classiest tuxedos as this man sells out concert halls around the world. I am proud that we have remained friends. He is now performing his audience and critically acclaimed  show, Crazy 1961, which I saw and loved and highly recommend. It took almost 51 years to get to this blog, but my celebrating Mark Nadler is more than just a blog.
Mark was doing shows before he saw one.  The first show he did was for a Kiwannis Club in Waterloo, Iowa.  He was 4. He thinks the first live performance he saw probably was a concert by the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Community Symphony Orchestra as his mother played the violin in the orchestra. 
He said it was thoroughly scarring!His home-town of Waterloo, Iowa; hometown of Michelle Bachman.  "It’s not pretty to be me."
 
Mark was, however, exposed to the arts growing up. His mother was not only a bad violinist, she was also a very fine painter and so the arts were a big part of their household.  All of Mark's siblings played instruments and they were constantly attending symphony concerts, art shows and, once he got involved with theater (age 6 -- a local production of “The King and I”) they attended every production done at the University.  Occasionally a touring production would come to the University of Northern Iowa so they’d see those as well.
Again, Mark's first time on stage, he was 4.  He had taught himself to play the piano and sing along.  He doesn't remember what he sang, but he's sure it was some show tune.  He was always showing off for neighbors and one of them thought it was pretty funny, so they arranged for him to entertain at their Kiwannis Club meeting. He soon was playing the entire “Club” circuit -- the Knights of Columbus, The Rotary Club, The Elks Club, etc. 
Mark was ten when he had his first professional job.  He got himself a job playing piano and singing at The Long Straw Saloon.  It was a saloon in Cedar Falls, Iowa attached to a restaurant that was very popular called The Olde Broom Factory.  They had real saloon girls and he was the "midget" at the piano with a derby.  (Sort of Iowa’s idea of a theme park.)  He worked there for 6 or 7 years and put himself through school with the money that he made.
 
Mark's  thoughts on Arts in Education

It’s essential!  I believe in it so much that I’m on the board of and volunteer for ART START.  ART START brings arts education programs into homeless shelters and also works with kids in the prison system in New York City.  In working on arts projects these kids learn self-esteem, self-expression and discipline, to name just a few things that make a difference in their lives.
  Mark's thoughts on Carol Channing  (All my blogs focus on Carol Channing’s Foundation For The Arts)

I think it’s absolutely wonderful.  Most celebrities seem to be all about themselves, but the fact that Carol is using her celebrity to focus on the future generation and their expansion as human beings is as admirable as anything I can think of.
 
           Most recent appearance

My most recent appearance was doing my show CRAZY 1961 at the Laurie Beechman Theater on Dec. 18.

Next appearance

My next appearance will be doing my show CRAZY 1961 at the Laurie Beechman Theater on January 15.  (I’ll also be doing it on the 22nd and 29th -- all at 1PM.)


What is your biggest success in Show Business

It’s really hard to say.  I’ve done so many things that have been so successful on different levels.  I guess the biggest thing I’ve ever done was when I did a solo show about 1935 accompanied by The New York Pops Orchestra at the Mann Center in Philadelphia.  It was a two-act concert of just me and the largest Pops orchestra in the world (75 pieces).  I did all the arrangements myself, as well as starring in the show and there were 6,000 people in attendance.  Of course, I just did a show at Town Hall on October 13 in which I co-starred with Chita Rivera and Bill Cosby -- that was pretty thrilling, as well!  
I suspect that my biggest success is yet to come!
        What was your lowest low and how did you surpass that?

When I was living in L.A. I had a partner who was dying of AIDS.  I had to take care of him (which was a great privilege and the most fulfilling experience of my life so far!) and therefore I was unable to take jobs that would take me away from home.  I had to support myself by playing in gay bars in the L.A. area.  They didn’t pay well at all and the hours were extremely long.  I was mainly working for tips.  I had had great success in New York and moved to L.A. to get into sit-coms, which didn’t happen and I was stuck there just trying to survive.  The way I “surpassed” it was by getting into it.  I worked it.  I made every piece as much of a production number as I could and performed as if I were playing Carnegie Hall.  Eventually, I saved up enough money to be able to move back to New York (with that same partner who did not die in L.A.!) and within a couple years I WAS playing at Carnegie Hall!

 What one change would you like to see in today’s industry?

It’s not so much in the industry, as much as in the public.  I wish people would just take a chance more.  Go see shows by people who haven’t been praised in The New York Times.  I wish they’d go out just for the sake of it and not only go to see the thing that everyone’s raving about.  I wish audiences were as adventurous as we performers are!


Who are your models and influences as an artist?
I have so many that it’s really hard to even name one.  Louis Armstrong comes to mind. 
But also people like Gretchen Wyler (who was a friend of mine) and John Wallowitch and Dawn Hampton -- people that most people may not have heard of, but I learned so much from them!
Gretchen Wyler
Dawn Hampton 
Are you happy at the point you are right now in your career? 

ABSOLUTELY!!


Do you feel you have achieved what you set out to do?

Yes.  I intend to achieve more, of course, but I make an excellent living singing and playing the piano and entertaining people.  That’s what I set out to do and I certainly am doing it.  In fact, I never imagined that I would be able to do that in shows that I create -- so, in fact, I have exceeded my expectations.
Check out this review from Corinne Cohen 

 Thank you, Mark, for ALL you do!

 NO COPY WRITE INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!
Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!

Thank you Mark for the gifts you give to the world! Thank you, to all the entertainers mentioned in this blog!
I love you ALL!! 

                                    Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

                                    Now, GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TODAY!

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Tomorrow's blog will be..YOU TELL ME...I'M OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS!

Please contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING  and HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS




TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY!
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

This blog is dedicated to the memory of my friend, Harry Kullijian 


7 comments:

  1. Dear Richard, it's SO wonderful to read your inimitable writing, to comment on the brilliant work and success of our mutual friend Mark Nadler.
    I adore and revere you both; as consummate entertainment professionals, fantastic performers, and exemplary human beings. it is always my thrill to see you and be in a show with you. you two continue to inspire; to show the world the best in entertainment. Thank you! Irene Soderberg

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  2. An amazing presentation of an amazing performer. We are blessed. Thank you both! Cynthia Crane

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  3. Deart Richard,
    This is a most beautifully written piece honoring the life, extraordinary talent and incredible energy of Mark Nadler. Both of you have brought remarkable entertainment and joy to the Cabaret Community. We are indebted and truly grateful for such warmth and superior contributions which have enriched all our lives! Thank you both for your charm, wit, talent, generosity and love!
    Wishing you all continuing good health and much happiness in 2012 and always!
    Rhoda Minowitz

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  4. Our mutual friend K T Sullivan introduced me to Mark shortly after I moved to LA in the 90s, and I had the privilege of becoming one of the regular "guest performers" in Mark's weekly shows at the Cinegrill. Such wonderful shows, and such fun to do! God, do we miss you (and Joe) out here! Terrific article...

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  5. Not only is Mark Nadler a brilliant musician and unforgettable entertainer, he's also a devoted New York Mets fan. For that alone, I would love him; but his extraordinary talent and sparkling stage presence would make him impossible to resist even if he rooted for the Yankees!

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  6. Thanks, Richard, for your starburst of a salute, and for the Q&A. I am sending it to friends, as I always run out of words when trying to describe Mark Nadler.

    Pat Button

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  7. Dear Richard.. What a great way to start a new year...Not only do we get a history lesson about the major highlights of the year 1961 (including your birthday), but we also get a wonderful in depth insight into "This is your life Mark Nadler".... a most loveable guy and a fabulous entertainer.
    Wishing you all the very best...and may all of your dreams come true in this new year.

    Always jae French

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