A Thanksgiving Cabaret Contest and Picks of the Week–What Are You Thankful for This Thanksgiving?

By ROB LESTER****At last! See Liza Minnelli and Barbra Streisand on the same stage for $20. Or, as Sidney Myer oft says, “…Or reasonable facsimiles.” Facsimiles Saturday night are Rick Skye as Liza and Steven Brinberg brings the music, the mem’ries to light the corners of your mind and the magic, and Mr. Myer himself. The musical director is irrepressible (according to all nuclear scientists) Ricky Ritzel… That’s a good start on a list of what we can be thankful for in cabaret in the days before and after Thanksgiving. On the Saturday after Turkey Day is Mr. Skye’s second installment of his monthly variety series at Don’t Tell Mama at 343 West 46 Street. But it’s just one cabaret show to be grateful for as we ponder giving thanks for being in the cabaret-rich land of NYC. Here are a few more in and around Thanksgiving Weekend and just after in shows where Broadway meets cabaret and cabaret meets Broadway

  1. Jeff Harnar is back with his classic show surveying shows that were on the boards in 1959.  The hills were alive with the sound of music and everything was coming up roses for you and for me. The Harnar happening is on Monday at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, itself in the theatre district on Theatre Row under the West Bank Cafe.

2. Cabaret singers have always been thankful to songwriter Irving Berlin for his frequently-used material, such as numbers you’ll certainly hear in the next weeks: “White Christmas,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” “Happy Holiday,” and don’t forget “Plenty to Be Thankful For,” the Thanksgiving-specific one. The 13th Street Repertory Theater (on 13th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) has just opened a run of Chip Deffaa‘s autobiographical delight, Irving Berlin: In Person starring song-and-dance dynamo Jon Peterson –it runs Mondays and Tuesdays through December 18. And, speaking of the number 18, that’s the very reasonable number of dollars a ticket costs.  (It’s a theatre, so no drink costs or tip to add.)

  3. Speaking of song-and-dance men dynamo types (this time with a cover and minimum, plus a maximum of panache), Ben Vereen holds forth at Feinstein’s/54 Below this week, a return engagement for the Broadway veteran.


4. And if your Saturday after Thanksgiving brings you to Rick Skye’s variety show discussed above, then you can make it a double header because just two blocks downtown from Restaurant Row and two blocks north of Theatre Row is Birdland, where Billy Stritch gets a series of three Saturday shows going in the early time slot of 6 PM. The Stritch-a-rama is titled after a Broadway song from the recently revived On the Town — it’s Billy’s own thanks-giving mantra: Lucky to Be Me.  Repertoire includes his arrangements of melodies you have hummed by George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Hoagy Carmichael, Cy Coleman and more. The superb Mr. Stritch had his own moment in the Broadway sun as a cast member of a musical about a musical based on a movie musical about a stage musical and named after a song where the musical and many other musicals have been sung, including those at the Laurie Beechman named after a singer who was in musicals like Annie and Joseph and the Amazing you-know-what, which is the avenue I’m taking you to: 42nd Street.  In a demanding acting stretch, mega-talented B.S. played a talented singing pianist.

AND NOW, THE CONTEST!!!!  And what do YOU have to be thankful for when it comes to Broadway and cabaret?  Free CDs of cabaret or Broadway music are the prizes for two winners who email me and give me their answers, with permission to quote them in this column on Thanksgiving Day.  Prizes for the most moving/emotional/sincere response and also one for the most amusing.  Write to me at OnTheJobRob@Gmail.com …. Meanwhile, have a merry Cranberry and have fun as you run to the run of any of the shows mentioned above, huffing and puffing on the way to buy stuffing with no stressing about the dressing; just focus on the blessing.         

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