Friday, December 19, 2014

Cabaret Artist of the Year

Again - we all know the entire civilized world of cabaret & culture centers around New York City. We, ourselves have gotten caught up in "new york style" cabaret which we try to emulate. So it is no surprise that there is a list compiled by Broadway World for the Artists of the Year in our field.

If you are connected to anyone in the theater world, you are aware that their media has taken on a massive PR blitz in the last few years to nominate locals for their Best of List. This is not meant to demean if this applies to any of you... but the nominating and voting process is circumspect with actors from Lakeshore Payers up against stallwarts like Sally Wingert at the Guthrie. I mean really! The voting procedure is then like a campaign for Dancing With the Stars or homecoming queen and I am guessing therein lies the rub of how Broadway World racks up some revenue with sponsored hits to their website.

Broadway World Awards

But I digress. We have problems defining exactly what it is we do, but they seem to have ease. Cabaret Performer of the Year seems it would suffice. But this is the last listed category. How about Best Female Vocalist? With 14 women competing for the Title! Not to be confused with Best Female Celebrity Show or Best Female Jazz Vocalist. Who decides this? When did Ute Lemper become a Jazz star? I think I would certainly see a show by Stacy Sullivan before I would pay to see Lucie Arnaz? Who is Julie Budd and what makes her a celebrity? I would be upset if I was Mark Nadler who has been pounding the keys for decades and is still labeled an amateur under Jeff Daniels who has decided he is now a cabaret star. How about Best Debut? Best Non-Piano Instrumentalist? There must be over 200 nominees in all which makes the Oscars look like a bake sale comparitively. I think the idea is maybe that everyone is a winner and can go home with a prize.

It is great that there are so many names and options to choose from. We should be so lucky in the Twin Cities. But I don't think these awards are what the art of cabaret is really intending to find. My Two Cents.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don't Call Me Mama

I think as cabaret artists, we are always looking for the piece of music that is a little bit of a surprise and something no one else may have stumbled onto before. I got one such find via the Hennepin Library this week. I always search the new music CDs on order and saw one a month back for Cass Elliot from the Mamas & the Papas. I waited patiently until it arrived in my queue this week.

What a revelation. It is her last recording before she died, and not only that, it is a cabaret/club act that she was in the middle of developing called Don't Call Me Mama Anymore. It is recorded live at Mike Kelley's in Chicago and is everything we expect in a cabaret set and nothing at all that we would expect from her.

There is humorous patter & stories to set things up. I suspect there were plenty more on hand that were not included in the studio release which is sad, because they really let her personality shine. She opens with Pippin's "Extraordinary" with revamped lyrics by none other than Stephen Schwartz - so showtunes are represented. There is a great torch song medley. Classic songbook material. Original tunes written for her. And that voice - somewhere between the camp of the original Bette Midler and the chanteuse of Eydie Gorme. So glad I have added it to my library and so sad that we never got to see where this fine talent would have eventually landed. Give it a listen.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

TCCAN collaborates with Nautilus

Twin Cities Cabaret is getting a rare chance to partner with another musical organization at next week's Rough Cuts series. Artistic Director Ben Krywosz is always trying to push the boundaries of theatre that brings together song with story. Cabaret may be a stretch from his usual audience, but not the intention of their work.

Each month, they give public showings of works in process; all with music stands and a limited amount of rehearsal hours. But the effort is a chance for performers or composers to try out a piece in front of a warm audience and get feedback & insight. So 8 of our TCCAN roster will get a chance to experiment with new material or refine a project already in process. Janet Skidmore, Dean Elwell, Mary Keepers, Joey Babay, Katia Cardenas, Dorothy Doring, Connie Dussl & Vicky Mountain will all share the stage with Jerry Rubino giving some guidance as a musical director.

The setting will be slightly different than our normal Cabaret/ Salons, but it's still a chance to catch some of the great work we do in infant stages. There is a Monday 12/8 show at the Nautilus studios in St Paul and on Tues 12/9 at the Walker COmmunity Church in S Minneapolis. Both are at 7:30 PM. Admission is only $5 for each and full details are available on their website.

Nautilus Music Theater