Old Hats co-creator David Shiner promised us Nellie McKay would be “adorable” in Signature Theatre Company's premiere of his newest clowning collaboration with Bill Irwin, and boy was he right! Dressed in her trademark vintage attire, the quirky singer-songwriter serves as bandleader, piano-ukulele-and-cello accompanist, sound effects department (wait until you hear her spot-on imitation of a baby crying!) and impromptu tap dancer in this hilarious and touching production. McKay’s cheeky songs “Won’t U Please B Nice” and “Mother of Pearl” fit into Shiner and Irwin’s show like missing puzzle pieces—each clever sketch is bookended with a delightful performance by McKay and her four-piece band. To welcome patrons back from intermission, she wanders through the house improvising on the ukulele (“Edward Albee sat here and judged us,” McKay sang while sitting in an audience member’s seat at the February 28 press performance). But McKay really shines when she’s center stage, talking to Irwin and Shiner in her Judy Garland-style lilt, effortlessly playing the piano, or shuffling off to Buffalo in a charming tap routine. McKay, who made her first and last Broadway appearance in The Threepenny Opera, is clearly due for another walk on the boards...preferably in a musical that includes her songs! For now, catch McKay in all her adorableness at the Pershing Square Signature Center, where Old Hats is scheduled to run through April 14.
Click below to hear McKay sing "Mother of Pearl," a silly send-up of feminism, then see her perform it live in Old Hats!