33rd Annual New York Cabaret Convention PREVIEW

COMING: October 26, 27, 28 2022. Tickets on sale now.

A sure sign of Autumn with leaves changing color and culture coming back to the city after summer hiatus, the New York Cabaret Convention returns in full force to Rose Hall at Lincoln Center this year for three LIVE concerts. Those of you who travel in for your annual fix can book tickets now anticipating entertainment from a wide roster of familiar and a few new artists, meeting old friends, perhaps scheduling theater, restaurants, and additional cabaret shows. Performers are as happy to be coming back as you are to see them. There’s already an anticipatory buzz.

Yip Harburg on American postage stamp (Shutterstock)

Wednesday October 26, 2022 –  Look to the Rainbow: The Songs of Yip Harburg Hosted by Andrea Marcovicci and Jeff Harnar
Presentation of The Mabel Mercer Award to Jeff Harnar

Edgar Yipsel Harbur/ E.Y. “Yip” Harburg (born Isidore Hochberg; 1896 –1981) was an American popular song lyricist and librettist who became known as “Broadway’s social conscience.” Returning from WWI, Harburg graduated college, then became co-owner of an electrical company that went belly up. LIght verse lead to lyrics for an Earl Carroll Broadway revue. More followed. During this time, the iconic “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” “Paper Moon” and “April in Paris” reached a welcoming public.

A contract to Paramount in Hollywood found the genial artist collaborating with a roster of the best composers of his era including, in part, Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern and Burton Lane. He famously  became the “voice” of The Wizard of Oz, penning “all the dialogue … and the setup to the songs and he also wrote the part where they give out the heart, the brains and the nerve, because he was the final script editor…” (Son and biographer Ernie Harburg).

Work on Broadway continued with “message” musicals such as Bloomer Girl, which addressed the Underground Railroad and women’s rights, and Finian’s Rainbow, which openly criticized mistreatment of working classes and racism. For his efforts, Harburg was hauled before the HUAC and blacklisted. Altogether, the artist wrote the lyrics to over 600 songs. His imagination, craftsmanship, wit and conscience live on.

Andrea Marcovicci (Photo by Daniel Reichert)

“Yip Harburg is a remarkable lyricist. He uncovers such clever rhymes and, truly, they delight me. I discovered just how good he was when I was in a west coast revival of Finian’s Rainbow. Harburg is a delicious combination of the wit of Cole Porter, the slang of Johnny Mercer, and the heart of Irving Berlin. Co-host Jeff Harnar and I have been lucky enough to bring together the perfect cast to carry off this material. When you’ve got a canon that ranges from `Lydia, the Tattooed Lady’ to our evening’s title song, `Over the Rainbow,’ we can assure you of a `Something Sort of Grandish’ good time!!” Andrea Marcovicci

Jeff Harnar (Photo by Stacy Sullivan)

“I was one of a fortunate generation that grew up with the annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz as a major life event on the calendar.  It was two hours of non-negotiable television time, the only opportunity to see that movie – no VHS, no Blockbuster, no DVD’s, no TCM. How brilliant was Yip Harburg to write such witty lyrics for children?  It was my first exposure to clever patter songs which I adore to this day. I’m honored to be co-hosting a celebration to his genius all these decades later.  His songs stand as a direct tether to the place of bliss and wonder I found in theater and movie music as a child.” Jeff Harnar

Nat King Cole 1959 (Public Domain)

Thursday October 27, 2022 –  Unforgettable: A Tribute to Nat King Cole
Hosted by Natalie Douglas
Presentation of The Donald F. Smith Award underwritten by Adela and Larry Elow

Nathaniel Adams Coles (1919 –1965) aka Nat King Cole, was an American singer, jazz pianist, songwriter, and actor. Over 100 of his recorded songs charted. “I started out to become a jazz pianist; in the meantime I started singing and I sang the way I felt and that’s just the way it came out.” — Nat King Cole, Voice of America interview, c.1956

The artist learned organ at church, then jazz, gospel, and classical on piano. Impatient to become a musician, he dropped out of high school at 15 to perform with his brother, then formed several iterations of what became The King Cole Trio. King Cole Trio Time, a 15-minute series was the first radio program to be helmed by a Black musician. In 1956, The Nat “King” Cole Show, the first starring an African American,debuted on NBC. Times being what they were, a national sponsor was never found. Despite guests like Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, and Ella Fitzgerald, the show lasted less than a year. Cole’s smooth, smoky vocals nonetheless garnered a devoted international audience.

Signature songs included “Sweet Lorraine,” “(I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons, “Nature Boy,” “Mona Lisa,” and “When I Fall in Love.”

Natalie Douglas (Photo by Bill Westmoreland)

“I love Nat “King” Cole for his musicianship, his glorious voice, his excellent taste in music, his humor, his elegance and his way of making it all look so easy. He sings as if he understands every emotion I’ve ever even thought of having and then some. When I found out my school chum’s grandfather (composer Jay Livingston) worked with him, I pestered him with a million questions – I was so happy to find out from his answers, that Nat “King” Cole was exactly the kind, sophisticated, funny, immensely talented virtuoso I adored then and still do today.”  Natalie Douglas

Friday October 28, 2022- Through the Years: Celebrating Timeless American Standards
Hosted by Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Artistic Director KT Sullivan
Presentation of The Julie Wilson Award underwritten by Peter and Linda Hanson

I asked KT Sullivan what her criteria is for an “American Standard.” “Anything over 50 years old,” came the response. Many vocalists chose material with this understanding, some she saw render a song and requested they repeat it at Rose Hall. Where younger artists are concerned, respecting that performance is donated, Sullivan allows leeway to more contemporary music. Some newcomers have old souls. Jillian Mustillo, winner of this year’s valuable Adela and Larry Elow American Songbook Competition will offer “Bill” – Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II from Showboat. Past winners Hannah Jane and Anaïs Reno will also perform.

KT Sullivan (Photo by Richard Termine)

The artistic director definitely gets out and about, signature hats/fascinators filing into venue after venue in support and in search of talent.

Going forward, new director of education, Natalie Douglas will be working with students from PPAS NYC Professional Performing Arts School, continuing to offer a master class underwritten by Christel and Bob Loverd in a Cayman Island High School, acting as a coach for “The Jim and Elizabeth Sullivan Scholarship Competition,“ as well as looking into other opportunities for exposing and informing the next generation of artists and audiences. As always students will be invited to occupy balcony seats. Spread the word. There will also be $10 same day tickets offered at the box office to students with ID and MAC Members.

Fasten your seat belts, entertainment ahead.

For more information: Mabel Mercer Foundation.

About Alix Cohen (1512 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.