A Conversation with Adrienne Haan

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:11 mins read

A Conversation with Adrienne Haan

September 19, 2018

By Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Adrienne Haan

Cabaret Scenes recently got the chance to sit down with accomplished cabaret performer and actress Adrienne Haan. Her classic style will be on full display in an upcoming show at the prestigious Joe’s Pub in New York City’s East Village on October 17 at 7:00 pm in Voluptuous Weimar – A Tribute to Berlin’s Golden Age featuring the Grammy-winning big band Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks.

Chris Struck: Hi Adrienne. Glad to get a chance to know you. To get to the easy questions first: What made you want to be a performer and what brought you to New York from Germany? Was it first just for study, or did you find yourself inspired by the Broadway world as a young girl?
Adrienne Haan: I have always performed—my whole life. Basically, I started in kindergarten all the way through high school, college, until this day. I played the double bass in my high school youth symphony orchestra and I also always played theater during my high school years. At 17 I had my first professional vocal coach and auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in my senior high school year. I was the only German accepted in 1997 and graduated AADA in 1999. I went on taking classes at Juilliard.

Chris: Now that you’ve been in New York and gone back to Germany, you’ve been able to perform as an actress and cabaret artist. What has made performing in different settings and styles exciting?
Adrienne: I have lived in NYC for 21 years, but I do keep places in Germany, Luxembourg (my paternal country), and Cape Town (where my parents live). I sang in musicals and did theater for many years in NYC and Europe before I decided to be a solo performer in 2007. Since then, I have traveled the world with solo-performances in Europe, the USA, South America, Israel, Australia, and Africa. I hope to perform in China for the first time next year to finally cover all continents!

Chris: Is there a memory on stage that stands out more than others?
Adrienne: There have been many memorable performances: My Carnegie Hall debut in 2015, for instance, or working with renowned orchestras around the world. Another highlight was performing for the Jewish community in Poland to honor the Holocaust victims and survivors. And, of course, performing with the king of jazz, Grammy winner Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks many times, and with my fabulous and one-of-a-kind music director of 15 years, New York-based pianist and arranger/composer Richard Danley.

Chris: You are known as a cabaret performer for specializing in songs of the 1920s and 1930s. Was there something about these eras that drew you to them in particular? Was it the style or the mystique surrounding the times?
I guess I am very much known for that, but that is not all I do. I have performed shows and concerts that have nothing to do with the ’20s and ’30s, like my French rock show Rock Le Cabaret!, which premiered in NYC at the Cutting Room in 2015, or my musical theater concert Best of Musical. But, you are right. There is something about the era of the ’20s and early ’30s that is fascinating, and I am not only talking about the American music of that era, which, of course, is fabulous. But, Berlin during the ’20s, which means pre-WWII, was the capital of fun, amusement, entertainment, and music, much like London and New York are today. Germany had just lost WWI and nothing was impossible after that. Berlin became the capital of entertainment and the town of the free-spirits. The population was craving for fun and freedom after the suppression of the Kaiser, meaning the absolute monarchy of the emperor, and then the terrible war also known as the “seminal catastrophe of the 20th Century” (the Great War) that followed. During that time, which is also known as the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), we had the most amazing composers, lyricists, writers, musicians, actors, singers, and film and theater directors and everyone came to Berlin to explore the joy and latitude. And I mean, even world stars from the U.S., England ,and France came to Berlin. The German theater was at its peak during that era. No other city or country could compete with Berlin. The German artists of the era who became famous mostly much later and whom I am talking about are Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht, Franz Wachsmann, Hanns Eisler, Friedrich Hollaender, Fritz Lang (Metropolis), Joseph von Sternberg (The Blue Angel), Anita Berber, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Tucholsky and others. Berlin was the birthplace of cabaret. Most of those artists, not all of them, of course, were Jewish, and therefore persecuted by the uprising Nazi Regime in 1933. Until this day, German artistry has not recovered from the tragedy of Nazism and the Holocaust.

Chris: Do you have a favorite performer (or a biggest inspiration) from that era of music? Or would you describe your largest inspirations as more contemporary performers? Is there someone whose career you find particularly inspiring or want to emulate?
There are a few, of course. Mostly the artists I have mentioned. But also people like the French author Albert Camus, the Belgian singer Jacques Brel ,or the German author Franz Kafka, or Rainer Maria Rilke. More contemporary idols include the French singer Patricia Kaas.


jpg” alt=”” width=”230″ height=”300″ /> Adrienne Haan

Chris: You have a show coming up this October at Joe’s Pub, a great venue that features exceptional talent such as yourself. What are you looking forward to most in this show? Have you been to this venue before?
Adrienne: This is my Joe’s Pub premiere and I am thrilled to finally be performing in this beautiful venue. It only took me eight years to get in! New York is simply tough!

Needless to say, I am performing a show about 1920s Berlin called Voluptuous Weimar – A Tribute to Berlin’s Golden Age, but this time I am combining the German cabaret songs of that era with American swing as this was popular in Germany at the time. This is a NEW show and my fans will see something different: new music, new costumes. This show also features songs by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Andrew Sisters, and Benny Goodman. And I will be accompanied by no other than the amazing Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks who won the Grammy for the HBO Series Boardwalk Empire and were very close to being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary: There Is a Future in the Past. Luckily, I have Richard Danley as MD by my side who is also the arranger of the show. He and I are a true team and he knows my every move, my voice, every little thing I do on stage better than my own husband!

Chris: Expand a little bit more on Voluptuous Weimar. What makes it different? What inspired you to put it together? What was the genesis or origination of the idea?
Adrienne: I have been around New York for a long time, holding a monthly residency first at the Metropolitan Room, then at The Triad Theater for almost three years thanks to Bernie Furshpan. I have 12 shows and concerts so far and have performed all of them several times. So, when I finally got into Joe’s Pub, I wanted to do something new and something big, similar to when I performed at Carnegie Hall. If I did not have the producers Gail and Joseph Barry, I would never be able to do this.

They produce all my major concerts right now and had “discovered” me when I was sitting in with Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks in 2013. My dream has always been to create another big ’20s and ’30s show with that amazing band. Combining the German with the American songs of that era was intriguing, because I needed to find a way to tell the audience about how all of this came about. So when you come to my show, you will find out how all this music relates to each another, even though it was written on different continents by different songwriters and for different reasons. Exciting, would you not agree?

Chris: What has made working with this group exceptional or exciting? Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. What has their experiences brought to your show?
Adrienne: Vince Giordano is not only the most knowledgeable person in this field, he is also a genius. He knows more about those songs, the composers, and the era than anyone I have ever met. His home is a true museum and he has the largest original sheet music collection of that era, all catalogued.

If you ever get a chance to see this, you must! No words can describe the experience. Vince plays every instrument there is really well, especially the tuba, bass sax, bass, piano, and guitar. Most New Yorkers know the man and his band and I do not think I must describe them any further. They are superstars, true and unique artists and it is an honor to work with them.

And, a lot of fun. I don’t know any singer who does not wish to have a show going with this band. Working with Vince means discipline, though, and getting “it right.” If you don’t get it right, you are in bad shape.

No, seriously, I like working with Vince because he is very “German,” and by that I mean what the Americans think of Germans as a cliché: very organized, on time, straight forward, speaking their mind (which Americans would sometimes consider “rude”). If you don’t get it right, you have to do it again till you get it right. Some have said of Vince that he is tough. That may be true, but that is the only reason why he and his band are so good. That’s how I was raised as well: “either do it right, or don’t do it at all. There are lots of wanna-be’s out there!” Those were my father’s words when I told him I wanted to be a singer when I was only 14 years old. Vince is nice to work with, but he speaks his mind and you need to be able to deal with this. I like these virtues.













For tickets: https://joespub.publictheater.org/reserve/index.aspx?performanceNumber=37677&SiteTheme=JoesPub

Editor’s note:
To keep up with Adrienne’s busy schedule, visit www.adriennehaan.com

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see StruckChris.com

This Post Has One Comment

  1. chuckiepie

    “Most of those artists, not all of them, of course, were Jewish, and therefore persecuted by the uprising Nazi Regime in 1933. Until this day, German artistry has not recovered from the tragedy of Nazism and the Holocaust.”
    A 99-year old friend of mine, here in South Florida, spent several years as a Slave Laborer in Auschwitz. As you, know, Auschwitz had an orchestra which played beautiful music as the victims were marched directly from the freight trains into the Gas Chambers. My friend told me that this orchestra consisted of the finest Jewish musicians from all over Europe. He said that virtually none of these brilliant musicians survived the war.

Comments are closed.