Bay Area Cabaret: A Cabaret Spectacular

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Bay Area Cabaret

A Cabaret Spectacular

The Venetian Room, San Francisco, CA, March 5, 2017

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes 

Sidney Myer

Photo: Heather Sullivan

For their 2016-2017 season, Bay Area Cabaret presented their first cabaret spectacular: a collection of six talented performers showcasing their personal styles to a delighted audience. Musical Director Michael Orland (currently touring with Kristin Chenoweth; Associate Musical Director on NBC’s smash-hit Hairspray: Live!; Associate Musical Director on American Idol for over a decade), local bassist Daniel Fabricant, and drummer David Rokeach beautifully accompanied cabaret artists Sidney Myer (pictured), Amanda King, Amanda McBroom, Carole J. Bufford, Peter Scattini, and Nicolas King.

Sidney Myer, a New York cabaret artist and longtime booking manager at Don’t Tell Mama, Rose’s Turn, and Panache, opened the show with one of his signature comic novelty songs, “I’m a Bad, Bad Man” from Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun. Later, he once again had the audience laughing with the once daring “It’s So Nice to Have a Man Around the House” (John Elliot/Harold Spina).

Local stylist Amanda King wrapped her jazz phrasing around the spellbinding “Azure” (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills).

Peter Scattini, an upcoming musical theater and cabaret talent, displayed why he won the 2014 Bay Area Cabaret’s Bay Area Teen Idol competition with agile versions of “I Wanna Go Home” from Big (David Shire/Richard Maltby, Jr.), and a wonderful version of “I Could Be in Love with Someone Like You” (Jason Robert Brown), cut from The Last Five Years.

Amanda McBroom is a cabaret legend: an exquisite singer-songwriter who commands the stage with her grace and elegance. She couldn’t be a better balance to the up and coming youthfulness of King and Scattini. She performed a trio of originals, each one a beautiful, self-contained emotional vignette. First up was “It’s Still Spring (McBroom/Shelly Markham), her affirmative homage to women of a certain age.

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“The Portrait,” her remembrance of her mother, is achingly genuine and heartfelt. Delivering “The Rose,” her signature money-maker (Amanda gleefully said it bought her a new kitchen), for what may be the billionth time, seemed just as fresh and poignant as when she wrote it.

Two performers shone brightly, cementing the spectacular in A Cabaret Spectacular: Nicolas King and Carole J. Bufford. King started his career early, appearing in Broadway shows like Beauty and the Beast, A Thousand Clowns (with Tom Selleck), and Carol Burnett’s Hollywood Arms (directed by Hal Prince)—all before he was 12. With his well-toned tenor and congenial personality, success has come. He’s the recipient of the 1995 and 1996 Talent America Award, the 2010 Julie Wilson Award, the 2015 AMG Award for Artist of the Year, and New York’s coveted Bistro Award in 2012 in the Vocalist category. He sang the seldom-performed Cy Coleman/James Lipton “Suddenly,” and an homage to Peggy Lee with her wonderful composition, “Where Can I Go Without You” (music by Victor Young). He pulled out all his showman chops on Ella Fitzgerald’s huge smash “(If You Can’t Sing It) You’ll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)” (Sam Coslow).

Carole J. Bufford is a force of nature: a tiny whirlwind of energy, sensuality, and pixie-like charm. Right out of the gate she ripped into a sultry cover of the traditional cautionary tale of life gone wrong, “House of the Rising Sun.” You could hear a pin drop during her interpretation of Belle Barker’s 1931 hit “All of Me” (Gerald Marks/Seymour Simons), sung with its original intent as a grieving widow’s lament to lost love. She closed with a sizzling blues cover of “You’ve Got the Right Key, but the Wrong Keyhole” (Clarence Williams/Eddie Green).

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Chock full of sexual double entendres typical of the bawdy roaring ’20s and ’30s, Bufford becomes the confident, sexually empowered woman who changes the locks on her cheating ex.

An excellent choice of quality performers made this an exciting new presentation format for Bay Area Cabaret. Good thing there’s an abundance of wonderful cabaret entertainers ready to fill future shows!

Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.