“They did indeed “nail it””
To describe Nailed It! makes it sound quite basic: two guys; one singer; one pianist; a collection of gloriously lyrical tunes; and fabulous sparkly jacket. But for Fringe debut act Mackenzie-Spencer and Strano this was a masterclass in getting all the basics of cabaret spot in. They did indeed “nail it”.
Andrew Strano’s voice is uncompromisingly musical theatre, and the songs composed with partner in crime Loclan Mackenzie-Spencer more than complement his personality and style. While not a particularly unique voice, he has a fantastic range and used his instrument to bring a full spectrum of emotion and empathy to each number.
With comical tunes covering topics such as the “birds and bees” and having intimate relations with one’s twin sister(!), to a beautiful touching number about relationships, the pair’s songwriting talent is simply wonderful. Nailed It! is comprised exclusively of original songs, all of which could have featured in the latest off-Broadway hit musical.
What makes this show really special though, is the perfect blend of professionalism and fragility on display. It is clearly solid and well rehearsed musically, but with the anecdotes in between Strano showed a real vulnerability and honesty in his imperfections, which made him incredibly likeable.
Special mention should also go to Mackenzie-Spencer’s seemingly virtuosic keyboard playing, deftly belting out complex melodies, all the while making it seem inhumanly simple. His quieter persona delightfully balanced Strano’s more extroverted stage presence and they were clearly very at ease with each other.
One worry many of us face when attending cabaret shows is around audience interaction. Are they going to pick on me? Fortunately Strano makes the audience feel so comfortable that those fears are almost immediately allayed. Questions are asked of the audience in general, and both performers dealt well with the random responses they received (there’s always one…) and seamlessly wove them into the next song as if it were all planned without seeming overly choreographed.
If I had one criticism, and this is very much down to personal preference, it is that theatrically I would have liked to have seen a few more risks taken. While the songs covered some fairly close-to-the-line topics, what was missing to make this show really unforgettable was something a bit out of the box, a real wow factor. However, next year, when these guys come back (which they absolutely must), it will be with a sure-fire five star show.
Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 7 August)
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