Mark Nadler – Hootenanny

Hootenanny Mark Nadler Cabaret Festival 2024Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The Banquet Room. 7 Jun 2024


Mark Nadler - along with his ubiquitous rubber-ducky, makes a welcome return season to the Banquet Room at the Festival Centre for Cabfest.


It begins as a strap-yourself-in one-man show and it never stops.  He simply is an experienced and class performer, who owns the stage from the outset and never lets go. This is a consummate performance.


Nothing and no-one, is sacred. He references an audience member as "nothing more tragic than a hapless drag queen". The Banquet Room he compares to playing at the Holiday Inn - at least it's the "big room at the Holiday Inn". A late comer who arrives with a bag of chips is regularly referenced. Yet all is delivered with style and panache and a generous dose of personality. 


In a partly self-mocking way, Nadler recalls his risqué COVID home-podcast that includes his dog. It doesn't get broadcast. 


At the show's beginning, Nadler tells us that his only planned numbers are his opening and his closing songs. The rest is a spontaneous, come-as-you-are show. His wealth and breadth of experience serves him brilliantly. Though too, he is able to adapt. Having promised "more Gershwin" (which had not eventuated) he replaces this final number with...'"more Gershwin". He is so at ease. This is his stage.


His brilliant vocals and skilful piano playing remain the focus. His songbook is wide and rich, and his pianism is exceptional. With his range, skills and variety on full display the audience rarely has time to draw a breath. Nadler progresses so quickly from song to anecdotes and observations (and everything in between), that we are clearly seeing a one-man, all-singing, all-dancing, all-talking virtuoso performance. The likes of which are rarely seen. Catch your breath for a moment and you're in awe. 


With the welcoming of his handpicked guests, Gillian Cosgriff, Mark Lebante, and Joan & Flo, this is Nadler's moment of generosity - championing the talents of all three.  All had played at the earlier Gala Performance, or in Nadler's words the "Galah Performance."


Cosgriff ranges from Why Try To Change Me by Cy Coleman to a brilliant piano duet with Duke Ellington's Dont Get Around Much Anymore.  It is sassy and wildly energetic. Lebante's signature piece focuses on the playlist of Nat King Cole - and both he and Nadler balance and counterbalance each other harmoniously in a rich duet. With a change of pace, Flo and Jo sing One Night Only from the show Dream Girls; however it is their own number of having drunk too much that is the highlight, and so very funny.


As the end of the show draws nigh, Nadler individually thanks all of his crew. Another nice and generous touch. It is clear that this is not so much a curated show - but rather a spontaneous one. Closing with Who Could Ask For Anything More (complete with tap shoes) is so apt.


Just perhaps, Mark Nadler may one day get his own star at the Festival Centre's ‘Walk of Fame’? It will be well deserved.


Brian Wellington


When: 7 to 9 Jun

Where: The Banquet Room

Bookings: Closed