27th New York Cabaret Convention
Gala Opening Night
Rose Theater, NYC, October 18, 2016
Reviewed by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes
Photos by Maryann Lopinto
The scene: the reception area at Rose Hall—packed with performers, musicians, fans and friends of cabaret, greeting each other and swapping news, waiting for the concert hall doors to open. At 5:45 PM, the ushers took their places and the crowd filed in to take their seats.
The occasion: the Gala Opening Night of the 27th New York Cabaret Convention, produced and sponsored by the Mabel Mercer Foundation.
House lights down … stage spotlight up …and, striding onto the stage to welcome the crowd: KT Sullivan, the Foundation’s artistic director and hostess of the evening.
And it was a sparkling program, showcasing a variety of styles. Opening the program was KT herself, with “You’re the Top,” followed by, among others, Robert Creighton performing a George M. Cohan medley; T. Oliver Reid, in ever-knockout style, singing “I’m Throwing a Ball Tonight’” and “Let’s Start Tomorrow Tonight,” and Stefan Bednarczyk in a tribute to Noël Coward’s “(Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage) Mrs. Worthington.” It was the ladies’ turn, with warm performances that included Karen Oberlin singing “Losing You”; Barbara Fasano with “Photographs”; Stacy Sullivan performing a Duke Ellington medley, and Vivian Reed, singing a medley of “Take the A Train,” “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Believe in Yourself,” assisted by four lively dancers. And that was only Act One.
Act Two opened with a bow to Broadway with “Helpless,” a number from Hamilton, in a lively performance by a trio consisting of Natalie Douglas, Karen Oberlin and KT Sullivan. It was followed by fine performances that included Douglas’ “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine.” Douglas was then surprised by being presented with the Donald F. Smith Award. Matt Baker accompanying himself on piano with “Almost Blue” and the theme from The Apartment, Kim David Smith recalling days of Dietrich with “Illusions,” and Carole J. Bufford in a dynamic “St. James Infirmary Blues.” The act included a moving medley by Maureen McGovern, who was also honored with the Foundation’s Mabel Mercer Award.
Applause, too, goes to the evening’s several piano accompanists, who included Jon Weber, Tracy Stark, Mark Hartman and Alex Rybeck.