Cabaret Fall Preview!!

By ROB LESTER****Here’s our Fall Preview of the cabaret season, with a “hidden” contest for a free night of cabaret, which you’ll find somewhere in the text.  I’ve been asked by our publisher to give our readers some highlights of cabaret events in the months of October and November in the Big Apple, limiting my selections to two per venue to keep the list from being overwhelming.  Taking just two bites from the Big Apple is like being limited to two forkfuls of home-made apple pie when you know your tummy and the plate can hold more.  But in NYC, your plate is always full with so many entertainment possibilities. As September exits and October enters, the fall season of cabaret in NYC is in full swing, including some shows that really swing in the jazz sense of the word as the lines between the two genres continue to blur. Some singers who pay loving attention to interpreting lyrics as well as the melodies and improvising may have a foot in each camp or simply gravitate towards musicians who are jazz-oriented.  Since our alphabetical list begins with Birdland, the club known as the Jazz Corner of the world, we have a fine and fun example of this right away. 

Birdland: Personalities don’t come any larger than the stage persona of  the one and only Lea DeLaria.  The sassy, smartassy comedy sensibilities she first grabbed attention with as a stand-up comic are still with her in the patter between songs, but she’s a commanding vocalist who can swing her jazz face off. Her Birdland run is October 24-28 and there are two shows a night, each with a special guest (like the equally loose cannon Sandra Bernhard).  The last day of October (a.k.a. Halloween) begins a trick-or-treat trip for terrific top act  ….. Ann Hampton Callaway who is at the club through November 4, also with early and late shows.  She not only honors the music and words of great standards, but writes her own — which she punningly calls “Anndards.”  


Don’t Tell Mama: As usual, plenty of choices from regulars to debuts. The two-month period we’re examining begins with the first of a few nights with Tym Moss whom I just interviewed about his eclectic show that mixes the dark side with the life-affirming joie de vivre that flows in his veins. Opening on the very first night of October, he and the piano are in good hands, with one of the most talented guys around, Andrew David Sotomayor; direction by Lennie Watts.  Our two-month period ends with Josephine Sanges and her tribute to the aforementioned Ann Hampton Callaway on November 30.  Before that, the sensational Sanges is reunited with her fellow 2017 MAC Female Vocalist nominees in their show Together November 21 (and two of those other nominees reprise their recent top-drawer solo shows at DTM, too: Lisa Viggiano on November 3 and Sally Darling on November 29).  

The Duplex:  Check out their series In the Works  produced/directed by The Duplex’s own dynamic duo of Thomas Honeck and Lisa Moss— presenting songwriters they believe in with new songs to share. The next dates are October 29 and November 12.   Ben Rimalower is back with his award-winning one-man warts-and-all shows, recollections of his long obsessions with money (October 9) and Patti LuPone (November 13).  

Feinstein’s/54 Below:  More good news: Andrea McArdle comes in for several performances, opening October 10. And producer/director Scott Siegel reliably with regularity and resourcefulness regales with a roster of razzle-dazzle-worthy vocalists saluting: Frank Sinatra (October 3, November 3); U2 (sung by magnificent Maxine Linehan, October 13); Broadway’s Greatest Hits (October 14, November 17); The Greatest Songs of the Great American Songbook  (October 17); The World’s Greatest Love Songs (October 19); The Beatles (November 10).  Today is Scott Siegel’s birthday; in fact, he has a show at this venue tonight celebrating that and his fellow birthday boy, Ed Sullivan, another guy known for variety shows.  Now here’s the contest with the free cabaret—Send Scott Siegel an E-mail birthday message, with a copy to me, and one sender will be chosen at random to get a free ticket and a free drink to one of these shows! (Indicate your top two choices.)  Be sure to ask to be on his mailing list.  Send emails to with a copy to me so I can let you know if you won.    (Photo of Scott Siegel from archives of the late, much missed Russ Weatherford)  

The Green Room 42 is a newer venue on the street that bears its numeral, corner of Tenth Avenue in the hotel called Yotel. I tell you they will have more and more  goin’ on, starting right off with October 1, a night that celebrates the marriage of Broadway and jazz: Russ Kaplan, composer of In Transit on Broadway brings back his live jazz show with Broadway classics and originals, and featured guest Tony Award winner Debbie Gravitte, who has a new CD called Big Band Broadway.  And I’d especially like to mention a benefit concert for hurricane victims, Broadway Loves Houston, with stars including Jessie Mueller, Michael Arden, Tony Yazbeck Andy Karl and Orfeh on October 9.  

The Iridium has the ageless jazz/bebop legend, vocalist Sheila Jordan on November 4 and 5. Presented by ScoBar Entertainment and curated by Vicki Burns, you won’t want to miss this legend who Charlie Parker called “the singer with the million dollar ears.” November 12th brings the irrepressible showman Oleg Frish to the stage with his jazz septet as he is joined by special guests TBA as they Swing Around The World.

Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Columbus Circle may have those exploring the idea of removing the statue of that explorer it’s named for, but you can’t so easily evict the jazz and cabaret memories made regularly across the street at Jazz at Lincoln Center. That’s where the annual Cabaret Convention concerts happen over four nights with dozens of cabaret singers on stage, each for a song or two.  The joy begins with a gala opening night hosted by the singing darling diva with her trademark hat on her head who is also the head of the presenting organization, The Mabel Mercer Foundation. Opening night includes the beloved-for-good-reason Marilyn Maye,  And when the Convention shows are done on October 19 and the other singers pack up their sequins and sheet music, Marilyn Maye will be gearing up to simply return to the building for four shows of her own– two per night on October 27 and 28.   (photo of Maye from the collection of the late, much-missed Russ Weatherford) 

Joe’s Pub has the talented woman whom longtime piano bar mavens remember from her early days at Don’t Tell Mama and Metropolitan Room observers (and voters!) knew as the first-ever MetroStar Talent Challenge winner— Anne Steele.  She’s at the downtown venue on October 8.  One of the most imaginative and inventive guys around when it comes to re-inventing and refreshing well-known material is Kyle Riabko. He’s there with his new takes on Richard Rodgers that make up the material for his new CD on November 3, 4, and 5. I have no intention of waiting that long, so I’m rushing to see him right before our October/November survey officially begins, since he’s also there for the last two nights of September with his fantastic Bacharach Reimagined.

Laurie Beechman Theatre in the West Bank Cafe on Theatre Row brings back what is, so far, the show of the year in my opinion.  I was mesmerized by Thank You for Your Love starring Carole Demas and Sarah Rice, who have a special affection for songwriters Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones, best known perhaps for the beloved The Fantasticks, in which Carole and Sarah both did starring stints.  Now they cover that show and much more of the team’s output on and off Broadway, plus touching stories and visuals.  And the inclusion of a harp is exquisite.  (My original review  is here: ) Also at the Beechman is the irrepressible, tasteful in decibel, always God bless-able, Porgy & Bess-able Sidney Myer on October 15 and 25.  

Metropolitan Room closes its doors on the last night of September, just half a minute before October even begins.  But why not stop by for their grand finale with a special event right at 11 pm — or come earlier to see Peggy Lee and Liberace reincarnated, sort of.  Or just wait for the club to be reincarnated next year in its new location.

Pangea has Scot Albertson on October 21. , And who wouldn’t be intrigued by noting this title on the downtown venue’s calendar: Zachary Clause Does Bette Midler at the Continental Baths 1971: That’s October 27, November 4 and 11.

The Triad has guitarist Peter Calo, whom you’ve probably seen or heard with several cabaret singers or in the work of Carly Simon and many more, celebrating his new album on October 1. And they have a new revue songs by Broadway’s Maury Yeston (Nine, Titanic, Grand Hotel) with a cast including Robert Cuccioli set for 11 performances.

…..and that’s just SOME of the autumn cabaret. 

PS: For a free cabaret show, don’t forget the contest detailed in one of the descriptions above.