Meg Flather & Friends: A Cabaret Sisterhood

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Meg Flather & Friends

A Cabaret Sisterhood

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, September 14, 2019

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Meg Flather
Photo: Helane Blumfield

A concert of songs written by the witty and wise Meg Flather (pictured), involving a group of extraordinary women (including music director Tracy Stark, who adjusted to each of the varied singers’ styles with no apparent effort), made for quite a remarkable show. Usually in such events a few of the performers will seem to be not on the same level as the others; here, there wasn’t a single weak link in the ensemble. Flather, beyond her obvious talents, displayed a knack for pairing the singers and the songs, basing her choices on personality and voice to express the theme of each number. The evening was made richer by the wide variety of performers: “the most important fact about this show is my intent to be inclusive. I wanted women of different levels of cabaret success to come other and support each together through song.” Mission accomplished.

Creative consultant Lennie Watts’ light hand helped to shape the program into a smoothly running flow of compositions built around specific themes, ranging from “love in secret” to “mothers and daughters.” Kicking off the program was earth mother Sally Darling, who offered the very positive “Only See You.” Among the highlights that followed were Heather Villaescusa and Lisa Viggiano blending their voices beautifully on “It’s About Time”; Laurie Krauz revealing operatic passion and a voice to match with “What Only We Can Know”; and Those Girls offering a hysterically desperate and sour “Like Me,” including a clever reference to a well-known Broadway quintet (the last two had additional music by John Mettam).

Some of the most moving songs were in the section dealing with Flather’s relationship with her mother. “On the Second Floor” and “Like a Sunday” gave a chance for Corinna Sowers Adler, Elizabeth Nucci, Sue Matsuki, and Deborah Stone (who provided lovely support on guitar), to pay tribute to maternal love. Also adding a glow to the program were Celia Berk, Lucille Carr-Kaffashan, Helane Blumfeld, Mary Sue Daniels, Kathy Kaefer, Becca Kidwell, Lina Koutrakas, Rosemary Loar, and Deborah Zecher. Bringing the show to a climax, appropriately, was the other earth mother of the day, Natalie Douglas, who led the company in “We Are as Strong,” a celebration of the theme of the day—sisterhood.

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."