34th Annual Cabaret Convention Preview

It’s that time again. Cabaret denizens congregate in New York like snowbirds in winter. Come watch your favorites and perhaps add a few new ones to a listening roster and/or club attendance.(Support live music!) Rub shoulders with approachable performers in the lobby after curtain. Encourage young people to take advantage of student tickets. A cornucopia of talent waits. Below, see the calendar and hear from the stars themselves about what to expect and why this annual event is so special.

Tuesday, October 17 Speak Low: The Music of Kurt Weill
Hosts Jeff Harnar and Andrea Marcovicci
Jon Weber-piano, Steve Doyle-bass, Dan Gross-drums

Andrea Marcovicci: “‘September Song,’ ‘My Ship,’ and ‘Lost in the Stars.’ Do those titles entice you? Even though Kurt Weill was deeply associated with Bertold Brecht early in his career, landing on American shores he sought out poets such as Langston Hughes, Maxwell Anderson, and Ogden Nash with whom to collaborate. When he hit his stride, writing with Ira Gershwin and Alan Jay Lerner, melodies took on a more fluid, romantic quality.

“For many years I had dreamed of playing Liza Elliot in `Lady in the Dark.’ I finally had my chance of a full production at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia! I then wrote a tribute show to Gertrude Lawrence for my next Algonquin run, so that I could stay close to the material. Still fascinated, I co-produced an entire evening of Kurt Weill in America’ at the 92nd St Y. “

Drawing of Bertolt Brecht by Yuma the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Jeff Harnar: “My first experience singing Kurt Weill was in an SMU production of `The Threepenny Opera’ in which I played a beggar and had to sing lyrics such as `And that is all there is it, the world is poor and man’s a shit.’ To borrow from the title of one of Weill’s songs, there’s been `Nowhere to Go But Up’ in my personal connection to the Weill song lyrics I now get to choose to sing. Julie Wilson’s Kurt Weill show at The Algonquin certainly opened my eyes to breadth of Weill’s songs, but it was being in Andrea’s Kurt Weill in America at Lyrics & Lyricists  exposed me to a breadth of emotions I wasn’t aware were attached to Weill’s music.

“The real surprise for the audience, at least for those like me who think of Kurt Weill’s songbook as largely dark and serious, will be the abundance of variety, especially the bright, melodious and humorous material that doesn’t leap to mind when one hears his name. To quote one of Weill’s songs, `There’ll be light, there’ll be love, there’ll be laughter.’”

Artists making their Cabaret Convention debuts: Therese Lee, Ute Lemper
Presentation of the Mabel Mercer Award to arguably the most beloved man in cabaret, Sidney Myer
Presentation of the Julie Wilson Award underwritten by Peter and Linda Hanson to- SURPRISE

Wednesday October 18- Sentimental Journey: A tribute to Doris Day
Host Rex Reed
Tedd Firth-piano, Jay Leonhart-bass, Ray Marchica- drums

“…because we missed her Centennial…” KT Sullivan

Rex Reed: “I don’t think there are many singers with such high standards as Doris Day. She could also sing, dance, and act with the same unique and extraordinary ability.  It is with great pleasure that I picked her to honor. Musically, she could do anything from Calamity Jane to big band jazz to dreamy ballads with equal aplomb. I hope to show some examples of every phase of her talent.  There will be unusual, seldom-heard swingers like ‘Canadian Capers’, movie show-stoppers like ‘Ten Cents a Dance’, and creamy love songs like ‘My Romance’ with a hand-picked cast to illustrate her versatility.

“My hope is to enchant and entertain the audience with a rounded menu of her work that leaves no musical stone unturned.  My goal is to fashion an evening in the shape of a deserved  homage to one of the great singers of the Great American Song Book who was in a class by herself and a great personal friend whose gorgeous voice will live on for generations to come.” 

Photo of Rex Reed by Richard Termine

Rex Reed Profiles Doris Day – Kindle.

Making his Cabaret Convention debut: Seth Sikes
This evening features ten vocalists and at least one special guest.

Thursday October 19 As Time Goes By: Timeless Tunes
Hosted by Mabel Mercer Foundation’s Artistic Director K.T. Sullivan
Jon Weber-piano, Steve Doyle-bass, Ray Marchica-drums

KT Sullivan: “We were so fortunate to be able to maintain a certain amount of momentum, even during the pandemic. And now, we look at the full-strength range of this year’s presentations and partakers, and the level of wonder and gratitude I feel is pretty much overwhelming. Look at the 2023 list of artists — even from a geographic perspective! There are countless representatives from the greatest contemporary names on the New York City circuit – and extending all the way to the United States West Coast: from Brownville, Nebraska, to Durango, Colorado, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, plus singers from England, Brazil, and Sweden.”

Sullivan thinks of songs like wine, they have vintage. She defines Timeless Tunes as those that have endured. The oldest song in the program is “My Man”, written in 1920 and sung by Josephine Sanges; the newest is “If” (1971), written by David Gates and sung by Lincoln Johnson. Aisha de Haas will perform the title song. There’ll be no contemporary selections this third night.

There will, however, be two young, competition winners: Lizzie Buller won The Larry and Adela Elow American Songbook High School Competition which encourages teenagers to learn and perform The Great American Songbook.  Lincoln Johnson came in first at The 2022 Jim and Elizabeth Sullivan Scholarship Competition and is being flown in by that Foundation to perform at Lincoln Center. Sullivan will be traveling to Durango, Colorado just a week before the Convention to be a judge in this year’s event.

Making their Cabaret Convention debuts will be: Leighann Marie Dobbs, Ali Harper, Jonathan Karant, Filo Sophia (discovered at Birdland), Nicole Zuraitis, Darnell White (as a soloist,not an accompanist), and Gary Williams.

Presentation of The Donald F. Smith Award underwritten by Adela and Larry Elow to vocalist, accompanist, arranger Billy Stritch. “We had to tell him he was getting it so he didn’t take another booking that night,” KT Sullivan tells me. Though, she adds, as Donald (Smith) said, if we couldn’t have a Convention because everyone was working, that would be great.”

Collage of Richard Termine photos

Invited schools include: PPAHS –Professional Performing Arts High School; Success Academy Middle School, Rosie’s Theater Kids; La Guardia High School; Talent Unlimited High School; Frank Sinatra School of The Arts High School; Columbia University and The Music Conservancy of Westchester. Pace University, SUNY Purchase, and Julliard have also received free tickets for students.

Student rush tickets are same day only in person at the Jazz box office and are priced $10 + $3.50 venue fee. MAC Members can also take advantage of the rush price as part of the Foundation’s outreach to the New York professional cabaret community.

Rose Theater Lincoln Center Frederick P. Rose Hall. All concerts 6 p.m.
New York Cabaret Convention

About Alix Cohen (1793 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.