Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Russian Olympic Musical

Yet again, another obtuse cabaret tangent here. But as we discussed, cabaret can take on many forms with parody & satire high among them.

Thus, more fuel to the fire on the forthcoming Olympic games coming to Sochi. The Broadway community has never been a silent one when it comes to political opinions and platforms. So it is without surprise that this mock-opera came to fruition. It is a musical satire called Love and Punishment on the state of Russian censorship written by John Walton West and Jason Michael Snow. What is unusual is the outpouring of talent that participates in the project. It is narrated by the talented Andrew Rannells from Book of Mormon. But in addition to that, it is a veritable Who's Who of the New York theater community trying to out-do each other in both scene and song.

Watch the full 11 minute feature.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January Salon

smoky Dorothy and her Black Coffee
More news from our member's front. TCCAN continues to grow and get stronger. This was very apparent in our monthly salon this last weekend. The Town House Lounge in St Paul has been a great host to us with Kevin serving as our private bartender in the back room and creating an intimate setting for our work. We were so lucky to entertain a very packed house on a cold Saturday winter's night. Extra chairs had to be carted in to accommodate the masses. A great omen for us.

But the performances were also top notch! The talent is always apparent. But the recent workshops have made us more aware of the tight connection between us and our audience. It results in a tighter and solid show that flows easily and engages everyone in the room. Kudos to all with other great things to come in 2014 - in the very near future.

a romantic moment from Erin
Vicky channeling Edith Piaf

Les and an audience sing-along

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

No Direction

Our blog has been very informative for the last few posts with blurbs about our classes and salons. So I wanted to be a bit irreverent again and put something on for a few chuckles. Luckily I found this hilarious mockery on-line today and will share it with you all.

Everyone on the planet is aware of the Brit boy band phenomena called One Direction who burst onto the scene a few years back. Until recently, I paid them no mind, as their output was not anything that would ever find its way onto my playlists for a shuffle. Only recently did their new hit Story of My Life catch my attention, where it has surfaced even on Cities 97. They are being smart, changing their sound and trying to emerge from pop pre-teens into some sort of hipsters with credibility. (Take a note Justin Beebs!)

But anyone with that sort global recognition is ripe for sabotage. Thus, this wicked parody from a recent performance on Dancing With the Stars. The header claims that it is One Direction without Autotune, but the voices are completely dubbed. None the less, for all of us in cabaret, it again points the finger at the mega-pop world where Autotune can make anyone sound palatable. What we do requires an ear, rehearsal and years of training to make it look easy. So enjoy this wicked parody as they scream off key, fumble for lyrics and sing incoherently.

In all fairness, I am also attaching the slick studio version of the song in its video form which is very enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Uniquely You

...As Mr. Rogers used to say. This short snapshot comes out of our Executive Committee meeting last night. As we continue to have discussions about how our organization has grown and what it means to each of our members, this tenet rang very true to all of us around the table.

For all of us cabaret singers that are "defecting" from other genres - like musical theater or the jazz world, I think it is a great reminder of why we are choosing to take on this new direction. In theater, our job is almost always to take on someone else's creation. We inhabit the role, explore the hidden innuendos and bring some truth to the text on the pages. More often than not, we are stepping into the shoes of someone else or recreating an icon that has left a lasting impression. I know this especially to be true, being the "understudy King of the Twin Cities" for a long stretch. In the world of Jazz, it can be about finding your niche within the genre. How do you define yourself and what challenges do you want the music to bring out in you? There is definitely room to venture, but it still does not guarantee it becoming a personal expression other than the music and lyrics of the song.
But - the defining aspect of Cabaret is about putting yourself on the line and revealing your unique and true personality as you make your connection with the pianist & audience. We may all have differing visions of what our personal storytelling is - but we have succeeded if it is authentically our own. It does not have to be baring your soul, but it does require that we reveal our individual personality and character. We are never competing with each other for a gig, to put our stamp on a song, or to live up to someone else's legacy. The art form demands that we be unique and vibrant as we make that special connection with our audiences. Remember that and it can be empowering to you! Like a snowflake in the air or a flower in a field - no two are exactly alike.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Laura Benanti

Call this woman crazy and eclectic! This entry certainly pushes the boundaries of cabaret talk, but the more I pondered it, maybe not. TCCAN has been doing a bit of introspection lately as to what we define as cabaret, and I have been getting some interesting input from members that is sometimes contradictory even though echoing similar themes. Two words that remain constant however are "authentic" and "intimate." Strangely this clip contains both although no one would ever label it cabaret.

If you do not know, Laura Benanti is a reputable Broadway personality. She has huge credits to her name; the Wedding Singer, Gypsy, Into the Woods. She is stellar in all, but outright fame has been elusive to her. Attempts at television like the Playboy Club have failed. She has a cabaret following and from her material and talent - I would bet it is captivating. She may now be recognized at-large as Elsa in "that television version of Sound of Music where someone stepped on her dress." Ironically, she performed Maria on Broadway earlier in her career and I am curious if she had any notes for Carrie Underwood.....

But this clip is the premiere of a new web video series hosted by If this is any indication of things to follow, it will also be stellar. She starts by pulling off a rap jingle. Then decides to entertain the mass mobs in Times Square among all the other notable icons who are hawing a product; Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty and numerous Superheroes. Only, she participates in the guise of perhaps Broadway's most likely dismal role = Fosca from Sondheim's Passion. In black period dress, shawl, etched eyebrows and mole on cheek, she rambles from tourist to tourist serenading them with unfamiliar phrases of song and story. Cabaret? Yes/ No? Unlikely. But authentic and intimate - surprisingly YES! Hilarious. The video would not embed, so old school - follow the link.

Life With Laura - Fosca

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cabaret at the Columbia Club

This is a tipster from Connie. Apparently Indianapolis has it really going on in terms of a Cabaret scene! I have always known them to be a haven for all things education from color guard to jazz orchestras. And I also have a few friends that have made a nice niche in doing semi-professional theater there. But according to this website - cabaret is flourishing there.

The Columbia Club is a business destination in the heart of Memorial Circle downtown. But the added space of the cabaret is committed specifically towards nurturing the audience we are also trying to find here in the Twin Cities. The room itself is quite majestic while seeming intimate at the same time. Swanky is used to describe it and it would seem so. Megan Hilty is appearing next week, so national visibility is a given. In addition, there is an artistic director, audience development and a whole hob-nob of Board of Directors. The impetus is the brainchild of Shannon Forsell. They mean business for sure. Shows are sold out and workshops have a waiting list. And as I dug even deeper into the site - they are bringing in some pretty top notch talent for workshops - Laura Benanti, Stephanie Block just to mention a few @ $25 a person. A bargain that I would snap up in a second. Then for the summer, a complete 8 week intensive. We need to find out a bit of what is in the water in Indy!