28th NY Cabaret Convention: Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of Cabaret

| October 19, 2017

28th New York Cabaret Convention

Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of Cabaret

Rose Theater, NYC, October 18, 2017

Review by Peter Haas for Cabaret Scenes

Photos: Maryann Lopinto

The third evening of the New York Cabaret Convention took a new turn –several,in fact.

Titled Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of Cabaret, the show was hosted by one of cabaret’s most knowledgeable writers, James Gavin, author of biographies of Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, and Chet Baker, and in his book, Intimate Nights, chronicler of cabaret’s colorful past. The evening was dedicated to the memory of the late, great jazz pianist Barbara Carroll.

KT Sullivan

James Gavin

In easy-going style, Gavin combined introductions of the evening’s performers with a re-creation of the history of cabaret – a form he described as “fragile but indestructible.” Performances included Spider Saloff and Ricky Ritzel, opening the evening with “The Joint Is Jumpin’”; Maude Maggart, returning to New York cabaret after a long absence, singing a haunting “Why Was I Born?” and “Once in a Blue Moon”; Barbara Brussell, ten years absent from New York and, back in top form, performing “This Nearly Was Mine” and “Once Upon a Time”; pianist/singer Ronny Whyte; and, appearing in a glistening sequined shirt, the inimitable Sidney Myer, declaring “I’d Rather Cha-Cha Than Eat.” Other favorites included pianist John di Martino’s instrumental of “Lonely Town”; Natalie Douglas’ moving “Stormy Weather”; Nellie McKay with “The Dog Song”; and Carol Lipnik, singing – and playing the kazoo – on “Lifeline.”

Among the evening’s departures was the appearance of Charles Busch, renowned as a female impersonator, who dressed in male clothes. Charming as himself, he sang “Those Were the Days,” then chatted informally with Gavin about “those days.” Still another Convention innovation was a spoken monologue, delivered by the humorist Bruce Vilanch.

It was the evening’s finale that departed significantly from the familiar Convention format. Tables and chairs on stage mimicked a cabaret club. As performers from the evening’s first act returned and completed new numbers, they took seats at the tables as audience members. Following closing remarks by Gavin, Sidney Myer returned center stage to close the program with a moving rendition of the John Wallowitch classic, “This Moment.”  The evening, which had started at 6:00 PM, let out at 9:30 PM. Judging from the audience’s applause, it could have continued still longer.

Ricky Ritzel & Spider Saloff

Maude Maggart

Ronny Whyte

Barbara Brussell

Charles Cochran

John di Martino

Natalie Douglas

Molly Pope

Sidney Myer

Charles Busch & James Gavin

Charles Busch

Laura Kenyon

Liliane Montevecchi

Laura Kenyon & Liliane Montevecchi

Nellie McKay

Carol Lipnik

Tom Judson

(L-R) Spider Saloff, Natalie Douglas, Laura Kenyon

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Category: Cabaret Features, Cabaret Reviews, New York City, New York City Cabaret Features, New York City Cabaret Reviews, Regional

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