“Too Marvelous for Words: A Celebration of Nat ‘King’ Cole,” starring Keith David
I’m Living My Dream
Written by Laura Bleiberg
Award-winning actor and singer Keith David has had a rich career that is as diverse as it is distinguished, with several hundred theater, film, TV, and narrator credits. Among the standouts are the Broadway production of “Jelly’s Last Jam,” John Carpenter’s cult flick “The Thing,” and the wildly hilarious “There’s Something About Mary.” He currently stars as Bishop James Greenleaf in the Oprah Winfrey show “Greenleaf.”
But David is never long absent from the stage and the silky-voice baritone has paid tribute to the incomparable Nat King Cole in different productions for about 10 years. His new cabaret show, “Too Marvelous for Words,” comes to the Irvine Barclay Theatre on Oct. 19. David, 61, actually portrays the great singer in this show, and he spoke with us about his ongoing love affair with Cole’s music.
Q: Tell us about your connection with Cole.
- : Nat King Cole has been important to me practically my whole life. I don’t know how real this is, but I remember I was literally just a baby when the “Nat King Cole” show was on and I do remember feeling and seeing some of the shows. It could be it was reruns I was probably not even conscious of this. It was important to me to see such an elegant black man. When the show began, there was a dark stage and the spotlight would hit the floor and he would walk into the spotlight and there was this class act. It seemed like all the emotions in my heart, Nat Cole sings about. And as I grew up and became a singer myself, I had a similar timbre to him.
Q: Do you try to sound like him?
A: My connection is a soul connection—I’m not trying to do an exact imitation. I’m trying to extract his spirit…. I believe if anybody can love and simply believe in love and wants to be in love, that’s what Nat King Cole sings about.
Q: How does being a stage actor feed your soul versus performing in television and the movies?
A: Work feeds my soul and the thing that does my soul the most good is being able to be eclectic and participate in a variety of genres and to play a variety of characters. The role I’m playing now in “Greenleaf,” … I wanted to be a preacher when I was a kid and now I get to play in minister….I’m living my dream, and that’s a great gift. I’m extremely grateful to (executive producers) Oprah Winfrey and Craig Wright for creating “Greenleaf” and allowing me to be a part of it.
Too Marvelous for Words
A Celebration of Nat King Cole
October 19, 2017 at 8pm
Irvine Barclay Theatre