Seth Bisen-Hersh: Seth’s Talent Showcase: Jerry Herman Cabaret

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Seth Bisen-Hersh

Seth’s Talent Showcase: Jerry Herman Cabaret

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, June 4, 2019

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Seth Bisen-Hersh

Celebrating his 550th engagement at Don’t Tell Mama—or is it his 551st (he’s not quite certain, but he knows it’s been 12 years). Seth Bisen-Hersh chose to mark the event with a talent showcase built around the songs of Broadway titan Jerry Herman.

His choice of singers was a mixed bag, and the song list stuck pretty close to the “greatest hits” category, though happily, the emphasis was on comedy and charm numbers with a few well-chosen ballads tossed in.
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The host/producer also provided musical support at the piano, and chimed in on a melody now and then, including a deeply felt “I’ll Be Here Tomorrow.” He also introduced each performer with an amusing, if often vague, connection to the composer, such as one youthful vocalist’s grandmother being born on the same day as Herman.

Among the highlights, Mary Lauren demonstrated her considerable comic skills with “Gooch’s Song,” both musically and physically; Melissa Meli broughtprofessional gravity and a lovely voice to “I’ve Never Said I Love You”; Elizabeth Budinoff encompassed both sweetness and brassiness on “Look What Happened to Mabel”; Emma Romasco found both a lovely sweetness and a sadness in “Song on the Sand”; and Katie McConaughy, she of the grandmother’s birthday, used her beautifully controlled belt on “Wherever He Ain’t.”

On the male side: Brian Childers brought an easy dignity and a strong voice to “I Won’t Send Roses,” and later, seemed to be channeling Lee Roy Reems when he joined Paul Hanegan in a joyous duet on “You, I Like.” Hanegan also showed great lyrical dexterity on “Penny in My Pocket,” and Jim Reilly, Jr.
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displayed a deeply felt maturity on “I Am What I Am.”

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."