You say you need Mark Twain to arrive at your event riding a camel? Or Scarlett O’Hara playing a trombone while she twirls a hula hoop?
Nathan Daugherty might just be your go-to guy.
The Clearwater native is the founder and creative/artistic director of ND Theatricals, a multi-faceted production company that provides musical theater, plays, concerts and one-off mini-shows including interactive “atmosphere entertainment” for galas and receptions. “We try to be full-spectrum and do as much as we can in the entertainment business,” says Daugherty, whose Rolodex includes contacts for stilt walkers, jugglers, clowns, aerialists and animal acts, as well as actors, musicians, singers and dancers.
Daugherty is the 21st century Suncoast equivalent of the hard-nosed, cigar-chomping big city “theatrical agent” seen in countless ‘40s and ‘50s movies (“all right, kid, show me what ya got – and make it snappy”).
No cigar, though. And he’s anything but hard-nosed.
Daugherty is himself a performer, a talented singer and pianist, and an actor. ND Theatricals, for him, was a natural progression – since he was a kid, he’s been infatuated with the business of show.
All roads lead to “A Night of Classic Burlesque,” July 7 and 8 at the Palladium Theater Side Door Café (yes, despite the title, it’s a two-nighter). This will be the company’s fourth such event at the Palladium (all previous editions sold out).
There is a live band, the Burly Bandits. Daugherty himself is part of the group, playing the Palladium’s Steinway grand piano.
“I used to produce burlesque shows in this area that were very modern, using backing tracks,” he says. “Which was great, but I wanted to go back to the old vaudevillian classic style. Where you’d have an emcee that comes out and tells jokes between each scene and each song.”
That’s right, there’s more to this stage show that the bump-and-grind of (moderate) striptease. It’s an adaptation of classic burlesque, which featured bawdy comedy, an endless stream of groan-inducing jokes, daredevil acts, songs and surprises.
“We wanted to pivot after every single scene,” Daugherty points out. “We wanted to do our best to keep the audience excited and wondering what’s coming up next.”
Along with the Burly Bandits, Friday’s lineup of talent includes Marina Elaine, Lola La Colombe, Animalia, Vanity A’Loura, Miss Daddea D. Vicious, The Distinguished Daredevils, Mary Strawberry and Karma Kandlewick.
Saturday’s performers: Marina Elaine, Rogue River, Ktwo LeMew, Emma Jewel, Madame Dior, Indie Sinclair, Mary Strawberry and Karma Kandlewick.
“With burlesque,” says Daugherty, “I want there to be a story in the song, more than just ‘I’m taking my clothes off’ and that’s it. Tampa Bay has some of the best burlesque I’ve ever seen because they think about their costumes and the stories in their songs. I want my performers to really feel it. To really own it.
“I want the theatricality to be a part of it. Because back in the vaudeville and burlesque days, that’s all it was.”
Daugherty and his wife Taryn – she’s the CEO of ND Theatricals – have collaborated on a musical mystery play, Murder at the Jazz Club. “We’re doing it at a winery in Clearwater in August – a little tryout, and if it goes well, we’re going to try and get it into some fringe shows, and possibly even a longer run somewhere else.”
The next “Night of Classic Burlesque” at the Palladium has already been booked, for November. This one, in the larger Hough Hall, will have a “circus” theme.
Perhaps Mark Twain on a camel will make an appearance after all. With show biz, you never know.
The possibilities, for ND Theatricals, are endless. “We also can tour,” Daugherty beams. “Our shows are easily transportable. So if somebody calls me and say ‘Hey Nathan, can you produce a live band burlesque show for me in Chicago?’ Or New Orleans, or New York? I would absolutely be able to do that. I have connections in major cities, with performers. We actually might be doing something in Vegas next year.”
Find tickets for this weekend’s Palladium shows (recommended for 18+) here.