It's Cabaret Catch-Up time again. Don't get so caught up in the holiday season that you find yourself not caught up with cabaret. Like the other kind of ketchup and hamburgers, cabaret is "on a roll" at Urban Stages, 259 West 28 Street, near Eighth Avenue. Their Winter Rhythms series has been going forth since the fourth of the month and ends Saturday at 5:00 PM with a concert of seasonal songs and Disney treats.
It's a good time to catch up with cabaret performers you may have been meaning to catch. Peter Napolitano, producer of the series, is also director of this finale. In addition to Christine Pedi, Sidney Myer, and Raissa Katona Bennett, performers include those the MAC and Bistro Award-winning director has guided, such as Barbara Porteus, Helena Grenot, Adam Shapiro and those in the successful Tom Toce revue (Hopelessly in Love) he helmed in the series and at Metropolitan Room (Carole J. Bufford, Jack Donahue, Marissa Mulder). The night before (Friday, December 14) has two shows: selections from musical theatre scores will be featured in The Songs of Douglas J. Cohen with a bevy of singers including Karen Ziemba, Matthew Scott and more. That's at 7 PM and ERIN CRONICAN's cabaret debut show follows at 9 PM. Regulars at the long-running Sunday Salon open mic (at the restaurant Etc. Etc. on West 44 Street near Ninth Avenue) know Erin as one of the most wonderfully strong and reliable deliverer of musical theatre material. I got to see Erin's show when she "previewed" it one recent evening at the theatre where she's managing director, The Seeing Place. I heartily recommend her show where she fulfills the promise she consistently showed at those open mic nights. (She also shone brightly in another Napolitano-directed revue, Smile on My Face: The Songs of Richard Eisenberg, also an entry in the Urban Stages series.) Erin is a breath of fresh air: a clean and powerful sound, an intelligence presence in interpreting songs of more recent vintage, finding interesting acting moments in the lyrics and not shying away from emotional depths. Her autobiographical patter is frank, unpretentious, and revealing – as she shares her professional and personal goals and how she achieved them. She's a consistently focused and caring singer. Urban Stages' series benefits their outreach program for young people in schools and libraries all around the city. They're also accepting donations for their holiday toy drive. See www.urbanstages.org
Elsewhere around town: It's you and McNight and the music and the laughs when the pro with pow, SHARON McNIGHT, performs various time slots this month at Don't Tell Mama. Her shows are always feisty knockouts, spicy and sassy and she has some attitude worthy of putting her on Santa's naughty list. And speaking of the mix of holiday cheer and holiday sneer, 54Below on, of course, West 54 Street—go below for an "up"---has the annual and irreverent Joe Iconis Christmas-themed variety show, always a barrel of fun and high energy and wildness.
At the Laurie Beechman Theatre in the West Bank Café on West 42 Street near Ninth Avenue: There's a Christmas Extravaganza hosted by Tanya Holt, a Cabaret Cares benefit and the venue also gets well into Noel with Carla DelVillagio as Barbra Streisand, take a cute cue from the diva's two Christmas albums, and Christine Pedi's annual romp, There's No Bizness Like Snow Bizness. There a few performances of each this month. Or, if you prefer your holidays as Molly Days, comical Molly "Equality" Dykeman stirs it up again for her return on December 21 in what sounds like a wacky winking wonderland.
There's muchos Christmas spirit, traditional and also not-so-much, at the Duplex, on Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue, where Colleen McHugh's stocking on December 20 has, according to the show's title, some "Prozac," but expect pizzazz, too. There are others before and after, as It's Pretty Damn Close to Christmas, to borrow the title of Ritt Henn and Mary Liz McNamara's show of a sleighful of playful and jungle-all-the-way-full (of grins) original songs there on the sixteenth.
At Metropolitan Room on West 22 Street, you'll find Sandy Bainum Christmasing traditionally on December 17, but if you want something more raucous to go green (like the hair color of irrepressible characterization of festive Hedda Lettuce, try her show's roller coaster ride), with a few performances coming up. And, last but not least, certainly, there's our sponsor holding forth there:
Catch-Up on Cabaret is sponsored by Jamie deRoy and friends. The next of Jamie's popular long-running variety shows comes up at Metropolitan Room, featuring songs from Loni Ackerman, Michael Amante, Valarie Pettiford, Tonya Pinkins, and Giselle Wolf, with comedy from Judy Gold. The date is Friday, December 28 and the time is 7:00. See www.jamiederoy.com and www.metropolitanroom.com