Scott Nevins is a Sparkly Storyteller

Sometimes great theatre just falls into your lap. After Michael Hughes’ mind boggling cabaret at Statler’s on Wednesday night, this adorable guy suddenly comes to the microphone and starts to plug a show he’s doing that is getting its Canadian premiere at Buddies In Bad Times March 6th and 7th. The charm of this boy is gobsmacking, and he’s telling stories about attending the Academy Awards and interviewing Liza Minnelli, and I’m immediately captivated and wondering, “Who the hell IS this boy!? And why don’t I know him already!?”
His name is Scott Nevins and he is an award-winning host, TV/Radio personality, comedian and celebrity interviewer from New York, where he is apparently “a New York institution” (according to gayestever.com)- which is another way of saying he’s legendary. So, I decided, what the hell, he’s cute AND he’s legendary, I should check out his show and support Buddies. I’m *so* glad I did.
His show, Rece$$ioni$ta: Cheaper Than A Tank of Gas, is being workshopped here in Toronto for a future run in New York, and it is gloriously well-written and well-performed. It sits somewhere between being a comedy stand-up show, like something Kathy Griffin would do, and being a one-man show. It reminded me of Jack (Sean Hayes) on Will and Grace’s one-man Cabaret Just Jack, well, imagine if Just Jack was filled with wit, talent, and hilarity. That’s basically what Scott Nevins has going on.
At heart, Nevins is a storyteller. There are punch lines, and his sense of comic timing is meticulous, but the way he engages the audience makes you feel that despite the fact that he’s talking about his chat with Madonna, or the time Liza Minnelli stopped him on the street, he’s speaking from his heart, which seems like a very genuine, grounded place. It is this that mesmerizes the audience and elevates his words from him merely dishing out gossip. That said, he’s bold and brazen, as most comedians are, but I never felt as though he crossed the line into trashy tabloid territory. Nevins doesn’t rely on empty lines for shock value, he has far more class than that. His perspective on everything from the Miss Kentucky Beauty Pageant (for which he was a “celebrity” judge) to American Idol and Sarah Palin is constantly hilarious, but also intelligent, sharp, and well crafted.
I don’t want to spoil too many of Nevins’ stories for you because they demand performance. I will say, he pays hilarious homage to his (also legendary) Aunt Grace, who he describes as a mixture between Auntie Mame, Mary Poppins and Little Edie from Grey Gardens. How fabulous can one get!? The end of the show is a whirlwind of imitative performances in the style of three of the greatest divas of them all: Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland. He is flawless.
The most impressive part of the show comes at the very end when he sings contemporary pop and hip-hop “ballads” suggested by the audience as he imagines Judy Garland would sing them if she were alive today. These included: “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” “Rehab,” I Touch Myself” and “Irresistible.” He has a lovely voice. His acting ability is obvious. He’s hysterical. He’s even improvising! What more could you want in a show?
You want to catch this show before it goes to New York. You want to be able to brag to your friends that you saw it here first. You don’t want to feel like the moron who went to see Watchmen instead. I swear, you will laugh until you explode into a ball of glitter.

Rece$$ioni$ta: Cheaper Than A Tank of Gas plays tomorrow Saturday, March 7th, 2009 at 8pm at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. $18.00. Drop by the theatre for tickets at 12 Alexander Street, Toronto, Ontario. Or buy them online at http://www.totix.ca/

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