Evening #4 at the Cabaret Convention
Reviewed by Joe Regan Jr.
On Thursday night, October 10, the fourth and final night of the series of concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater took place. There will be side events on Friday, October 11 at the Cutting Room (a “cutting edge” series of adult performers) and a panel discussion entitled “Cabaret Past, Present, & Future” at 54 Below, including a special interview with Barbara Carroll and some actual performances by some of the very talented participants in this year’s series.
The event began with the sweeping entrance of the Mabel Mercer’s artistic director KT Sullivan wearing an outfit that was inspired by Loretta Young’s entrances on her TV series. After detailing host Klea Blackhurst’s activities in theater and cabaret, Blackhurst made her entrance in a stunning black and gold coat. She got right down to business because the first performer was Gregory Generet who had to rush up to his evening gig at Smoke. He sang a beautiful torch song the recurring lyric was “don’t you know that I care?”
Throughout the evening there were performances by cabaret headliners William Blake, Corinna Sowers Adler, Kevin Dozier, Liam Forde, John Forster, Tanya Holt, Eva Kantor, Stearns Matthews, Sally Mayes, Colleen McHugh, Sidney Myer, Georgia Osborne, and young Nick Ziobro.
The special awards this evening were the Noel Coward and Julie Wilson Awards. Both were won by Marissa Mulder. When Director of the International Noel Coward Society Barry Day, O.B.E, announced the Coward Award, he also announced the two runners-up. They were Forde and Ziobro. They both performed a Noel Coward song that they had sung at the competition, Forde a lovely “Matelot“ and Ziobro another special Coward composition. After receiving her award, Mulder did her winning number, a beautiful Coward ballad entitled “Never Again.”
The second act began with the elegant and lovely Julie Wilson singing one of her favorite songs: “But Beautiful.” It was delivered with love and emotion and Wilson received a long standing ovation. When Mulder accepted her award, she thanked all her idols: Wilson, Sullivan, her supportive parents, her director Karen Oberlin and Oberlin’s husband David Hadju, and all the musicians she had worked with. Then Mulder sang a clean clear “Day After Tomorrow” from her current Tom Waits show, (not adopting Waits’ raspy voice) and it was very stunning.
Now, who got the biggest applause outside of Ms. Wilson? It was manic Mark Nadler who talked about Cole Porter’s love for a member of the Ballet Russe and sang a tender, heart-breaking mash up of “In The Still of the Night,” “What Is This Thing Called Love,” “Easy To Love.” Then Nadler did a funny riff on the Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage decision, joking that now he and his partner have equal divorce rights! Then he talked about Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher,” a song written during Prohibition. He had the audience roaring and singing along the “Hi Di Hi Di Hos,” at one point doing a giant leap that was almost a somersault over the piano and the audience loved him.
The other big favorite was Sydney Myer who sang a Noel Coward song about Men About Town cruising on the beach. After talking about his history with the Cabaret Conventions (“since 1847” he joked) he did a beautiful version of the Mercer-DePaul song from Lil’ Abner, “Namely You.” Tracy Stark was his accompanist.
Some other wonderful moments were Raissa Katona Bennett’s song “Ingénue,” written especially for her by Michael LaChuisa; Mayes and Blackhurst ripping through “Bosom Buddies,” John Forster singing his own song “Entering Marion,” Matthews’ beautiful and sweet “Sing.” Holt’s moving “Good Morning Heartache,” (saluting composer Ervin Drake in the audience,) Sowers Adler doing a frenzied “Hollywood Star” from “Nick and Nora,” Osborne singing Lois Morton’s great “The Diet Is Cast” with operatic trills, Kevin Dozier’s sad mash up of “Always” and “Time Heals Everything,” and Kanter’s tender “Disneyland.”
Oh, yes, we finally got Blackhurst up front singing and dancing and performing her great “Before the Parade Passes By” from her triumphant “Hello, Dolly” at Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. Throughout the evening her personal memories and comments about the performers were priceless and it was a great way to end the evening.
*Photos Maryann Lopinto