The 26th annual New York, Cabaret Convention (Oct. 13-16), which also marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the sponsoring Mabel Mercer Foundation, had a glittering opening night sparked by a roster of top performers. The event was being held at The Town Hall, where it all started, as its customary location, the Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center, is undergoing renovation.
On opening night star KT Sullivan, emerging in a fabulous white outfit and a white, feather-topped, hat to match—KT is always known for her fashion statements as well as her singing—hosted the evening and appropriately led dynamically with “Another Opening, Another Show.” Sullivan is Artistic Director of The Mabel Mercer Foundation, having succeeded the late Donald F. Smith, whose dedication to preserving and expanding cabaret is still appreciatively remembered.
While every entertainer added to the quality of the show, I had a number of favorites. Among the women, Christine Andreas was a knockout with her Edith Piaf turn, injecting enormous energy and passion into “Milord,” and “Hymne A L’Amour.” Maxine Linehan has become a favorite for her impeccable interpretation of whatever she sings, and she scored again with ‘Mad About the Boy” and “Not a Day Goes By.”
Lauren Fox sets her own tone and highly individual style in her shows, and here she mesmerized with “Wild Horse” and “Storms.” Karen Oberlin, dazzled with “Lord Give Me Strength.” It is as if one has never heard “God Bless the Child’ before when Vivian Reed takes over that number, as she impressively did to close the first act. The very special singer-composer Amanda McBroom was a highlight in the second act, and also closed the show with “The Rose,” others from the cast joining in at the finale.
Among the men, Sidney Myer, in his well-known sophisticated, comical form, earned laughter galore with his performance of “No Ring on Her Finger,” about the adventures of a woman with an assortment of men, but alas, “no ring.” He is a master of pauses that heighten the effect.
Allan Harris, with his mellifluous voice and intimate style, was especially effective with “I’ll Be Easy to Find,” showing why he has so much appeal. Noel Coward’s “The Bar on the Piccolo Marina,” received a lively interpretation from Stefan Bednarczyk, also at the piano. Frankly, I get tired of hearing “The Impossible Dream,” but Kristoffer Lowe put impassioned new life into it.
Other outstanding participants included Frans Bloem, Rebekah Lowin, Joshua Dixon and George Ball, and the various pianists providing excellent accompaniment included Jon Weber, Robert Bosscher, Tracy Stark, William Foster McDaniel, Kenny Ascher, Ryan Shirar and Rick Jensen. Contributors on bass included Steve Doyle, Ritt Henn and Jered Egan.
Among the entertainers scheduled to perform during the rest of the convention were Karen Akers, Anna Bergman, Carole J. Bufford, Ann Hampton Callaway, Eric Comstock, Barbara Fasano, Natalie Douglas, Tova Feldshuh, Marissa Mulder, Jenifer Sheehan, Penny Fuller, Marilyn Maye, Sally Mayes, Sandy Stewart, Shana Farr, Maureen McGovern, plus many more.
Hosts scheduled incude Jeff Harnar and Andrea Marcovicci, Karen Mason and Klea Blackhurst. Where can you find as elaborate a performing lineup as that offered by the New York Cabaret Convention, all within a few days? Reviewed Oct. 15, 2015.