Mark C. Reis danced on Broadway with Ann Reinking and Ben Vereen in Fosse and he has appeared in several productions of Chicago over the years. There is no denying he has the Fosse moves, poses and finger snaps down perfectly as he demonstrated in “Big Spender”. His charisma, innate charm and likability carried him through a nearly 90-minute act at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal on Sunday September 27. He had the sold out audience eating out of his hand from the first moment he had to strip down to have his body mic adjusted. Problems with the microphone plagued him throughout but trouper that he was, he rose above it and tapped and sidestepped his way through the mishaps.
It was a bit of an odd show to start with since Reis danced his way through “Willomania” from The Will Rogers Follies and “I Want to be a Rockette” from Kicks: The Showgirl Musical. The sightlines were great if you were right in front of the stage, otherwise you just viewed Reis dancing from the waist up. But he didn’t dance for the whole show. He shared a lot of his life story and especially his obsession with wanting to play some of the greatest musical comedy roles in theatre. Roles denied him because of his tall, lanky body, bass voice and sex. The only way he would ever be cast in those roles would be if someone started an all-male Charles Ludlam-like musical theatre group. Reis admitted he once toyed with the idea of starting a kick line of all-male Rockettes. He has wanted to play everything from Eponine to Mame and Mama Rose. He regaled the audience with his audition worthy performances of “On My Own” and “Rose’s Turn”. He also delivered a lovely quiet turn with “Neverland” from Peter Pan. For his finale, he was joined by five females, all in black lingerie including Reis, for a rousing and hilarious rendition of “Cell Block Tango.” Scott Harlan gave great accompaniment on piano and a fun time was had by all.