By Melissa Griegel . . .
At the beginning of the pandemic, Ian McQueen, Tori Vitucci, Hannah Hall, and Elizabeth Fahsbender wanted a way to showcase diverse artists that were now quarantined to their living rooms, and not able to perform live. For the past two years, this online cabaret show has highlighted over 170 artists, including rising stars and special guests from top Broadway shows. Proceeds from the Cabaret on the Couch shows have benefited 18 non-profits, with a focus on New York arts organizations. Friday, March 18 was their third live show, as they welcomed the newest member of the cabaret creative team: Raynner Garcia.
The show was directed by Elizabeth Fahsbender, with host Emily Jeanne Phillips acting as both emcee and performer, and accompanied on the piano by music director Matt Graham. Tori Vitucci, who is the hearing daughter of deaf parents, brought in Michael Smith and Kerry Kissinger to do ASL interpretation for the show to make the performance more inclusive.
Heather Makalini took the stage first, singing “Astonishing” from Little Women. She didn’t have time to chat with host Phillips, as she had to run off to make the half-hour call to perform in Aladdin on Broadway,
Next up was Emily Mae Hsiang who sang an original song entitled “Small Town Lament.” She was inspired to write a song about small town life after viewing the movie Lady Bird.
Explaining why he chose to sing “I Am What I Am” from La Cage Aux Folles, Ansi Rodriguez said, “I am beating the odds right now being able to perform as a gay Latino from the South Bronx. I am what I am. Get ready!”
Cabaret on the Couch founders McQueen and Vitucci took to the stage for a duet of “Falling Slowly.” Due to a performer having to drop out of the show at the last minute, they decided at 10 AM that morning that they would fill in and sing for the Green Room 42 patrons.
Another talented performer singing an original song was Jason Bembry, with his song “Better Things,” about love and loss. It was his first time performing the song on stage. His single and music video will debut on May 6.
Host Emily Jeanne Phillips enjoyed all of the creative TikTok musicals that sprang up during the Broadway shutdown. She sang and tap danced to “If I Were a Man” from The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical.
Devin Bowles made his NYC debut at The Green Room 42 with “Together We Can” by Douglas Lyons. Bowles is part of the streaming musical Breathe: A New Musical which is a COVID-themed musical that focuses on life during the pandemic, as well as the rising Black Lives Matter movement.
Frozen performer Ben Bogen, who recently performed a solo show at The Green Room 42, chose “When She Smiles” from Lysistrata Jones, changing it to “When He Smiles” to make the song a piece he could connect with. “I am on a quest to be more authentic to me,” he told the audience.
Michelle Beth Herman closed the show out with a stunningly beautiful version of “Meadowlark” from The Baker’s Wife. Like Makalani, Herman also had a packed evening and was off to Feinstein’s/54 Below to sing at Sara Bareilles’ 9:45 PM show.
Cabaret on the Couch looks forward to having more shows at The Green Room 42, so keep a look out for them. You can follow them on Instagram @cabaretonthecouchlive. The group announced their prestigious Ruth Kurtzman Benefit Series Award that will be given at the 36th Annual MAC Awards next month.
Photos by Melissa Griegel Photography www.griegelphoto.zenfolio.com