There are a host of incredibly talented actors out there that don’t get much love or attention outside the insular world of the theater, or even sometimes with-in. Their names don’t have the cache of the Nathan Lane or Patti Lupon but they’re incredibly talented performers and I’m going to spread a little love. These will be actors that I’ve seen and who’s performance impressed me enough that I’ve started looking for them in shows and trying to see more of them…performing. (I’ve not yet devolved into any stalking type activities)
In March of 2007 I, rather spontaneously, decided to head to NYC to see the NY City Opera’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. I have been in love with this musical ever since the movie version with Angela Lansbury, Kevin Kline and Rex Smith (Yes! Rex Smith, if you were born after 1970 you’re probably going to have to look that up) so I was eager to finally see a live production of this beloved show. The production itself was great fun with a very appropos Python-esque style staging, but for me the standout performance was Mark Kudisch as the Pirate King. He had the right combination of swagger, bravado, comic timing and that great baritone that does melty things to my insides.A few months later, here in DC, the Signature Theater was staging a production of the musical version of the Witches of Eastwick starring none other than Marc Kudisch as the main character Daryl VanHorn (played in the movie by Jack Nicholson). I jumped at the chance to see him perform again and assembled a small cabal to go with me to see the show. While the show itself was okay, Mr. Kudisch’s performance was the standout. To paraphrase one of my compatriots “It’s nice to see that character played by someone that is actually attractive.” None of us being of the generation that found Jack Nicholson ‘sexy’; Mr. Kudisch’s natural charisma gave a higher degree of plausibility to the story line of one man and three love slaves. The role also garnered him a Helen Hays Award (DC version of the Tonys). It may have helped that just a few month prior he had been playing the biblical snake in the ‘Apple Tree’, so he’d been honing his more ‘tempting’ qualities.
I haven’t had nearly enough opportunities to see this man perform, there are several performances that I’ve missed due to scheduling conflicts. Most recently, which was almost exactly a year ago, he was back down here at DC’s Signature Theater in their original production of ‘Sycamore Trees’, which again has him nominated for a 2011 Helen Hays Award. Hes’ been in quite a few shows and has quite a few nominations; for a complete list of his shows clickHERE.
Next up for Mr. Kudisch is the Lincoln Center’s Off- Broadway premier of the new musical ‘A Ministers Wife,’ which is based on George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Candida’. I hope to be able to go see it, but the number of shows I want to see this spring is expanding exponentially. There have been a couple of aborted attempts at the staging a one man show titled “In Defense of the Baritone Voice” which if it ever gets organized I would love to see. I actually think he should bring it down here to DC and perform it as part of Signature Theater’s Cabaret Series. I might make that suggestion on his web site.
There aren’t many good clips of Mr. Kudisch performing but I ran across this clip from Plabill.com where he’s expounding the virtues of the baritone and does two completely different and renditions of ‘Old Man River’. You’ll at least understand what I mean by the melty-ness of his voice. If you wan to skip the talking portion of the video the singing starts around the 3:45 mark. He does an awfully good Bing Crosby impression on the second rendition.