Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Cabaret Month! It's Janice Hall!

Janice Hall
Don’t give up—give more.
Happy Cabaret Month!

It is hard to believe that March is here. 
February was an INCREDIBLE month for me. 
So many wonderful highs, my birthday aside.

I had a great time with my blogs this past month. I want to thank all of those who I have interviewed and all of my subjects and readers. It continues to grow! I had 29,743 people read my blogs last month! So far, the most popular blogs are my blogs celebrating Maureen Taylor and Lauren Bacall, Dressing For Success, and  TAMMY GRIMES, CHRISTINE ANDREAS, STEVE DEPASS. That gives me a sense of what my readers desire.  And speaking of blogs, my friend Carolyn Quinn has started a blog celebrating her photography. She is a wonderful photographer and I am glad she followed my advice! Check it out here at  Spendiferous Images 

As I stated in my greeting, it is cabaret month!

The MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) nominees  will be announced later today. I wish all that desire it will get what they deserve. I also want to reiterate that if you did not make it to the ballot,  that does not lessen your worth as an artist.  We, as a society, put too much emphasis on the prize and less of an effort on the process.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve truly learned to ENJOY THE PROCESS!

Today, I am kicking off cabaret month by writing about one of my favorite artists, 2012 MAC nominated Janice Hall. She is launching a new show on Monday night at The Metropolitan Room under the direction of 2012 MAC nominated Peter Napolitano,  I’d Rather be Doing This

Under Peter's direction lasr year, Janice won a Bistro Award for her Marlene Dietrich, the show she is now MAC nominated for.

Go see her! I will be kicking off the month with a new group called Noel and Company, celebrating the works of Noel Coward. Keith Merrill and Mary Ellen Ashley have joined forces for what I think will be a force to be reckoned with. They are already sold out on Monday night. Check out my blogs on both:

MaryEllen Ashley


I continue to write about the Dollys for my book celebrating the legendary ladies of Hello, Dolly! Glen Charlow, my designer, has created a website that I am very proud of:  I have had some interviews with a couple of the Dollys this past month!

Stay tuned for the incredible things coming up in March!

Please remember that I'm also available for private coaching. More to come!

La Traviata

I first met Janice Hall when she came into Wednesday Night at The Iguana when I was co-hosting with Dana Lorge, who is still going strong, by the way! I became an instant fan of Janice's and I have even written about her a few times. This is the first in depth interview with her, however. 

She has the voice of an angel and although her voice is operatically trained, she proves that cabaret embraces all styles of singing. Today, I am proud to celebrate Janice Hall! I can't think of a better way to kick off cabaret month!

Janice tells me that she didn't see many live shows as a child; mostly, it was television and movies. But when she was a teenager, her mother and she would go to a summer stock theater in Denver, where she got to see Joan Fontaine and Gloria Swanson, among others, in plays. She thinks one of them was Blithe Spirit-"that must have been Joan".  She also remembers seeing a touring production of Hamlet, starring Dame Judith Anderson, when she was in high school.
She can tell you about a show she DIDN’T see: when she was in college, Marlene Dietrich came to Denver with her concert show, and she had a ticket to go.  But Janice was in a play and the director wouldn’t let her out of rehearsal to attend.  To this day, she regrets not just going anyway!
Janice was exposed to the arts as a child only after she got in school. 
She sang in choirs, and did her first plays in high school.  From the earliest time she can remember, she wanted to be an actress, although she always loved to sing.  The opera part came later.
Janice's first professional job was at Opera Theatre of St Louis; she was Monica in Giancarlo Menotti’s opera The Medium.
Janice feels, as I do, that is a shame that when something in the budget has to be cut, it is usually to do with the arts.  Kids need to be exposed to many different things, so they can decide for themselves what they like and don’t like.
Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong era? What other period of time do you relate to and why? 
Oh, yes!  I would love to have lived (sometimes, I feel like I must have) in Hollywood in the era of silent movies. It must have been incredibly exciting, all those people not really knowing what they were doing, and yet creating a whole new medium, and a whole new world.
It’s one of those things I can’t explain, but I’ve always been drawn to old films and the stars of Old Hollywood, from the beginnings through the Golden Era. I did a Hollywood show last year in Salt Lake City, and I hope to eventually do it in New York in some form.
Madam X
Not to mention, the fashions of that era; everything about it, really.

Your thoughts on Carol Channing (All my blogs focus on Carol Channing’s Foundation For The Arts)
When I was a kid, I had a stable of “favorite” actresses, and Carol Channing was one of them.  She was always so much fun, and she was completely unique! 

I’m campaigning for Carol Channing to receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor in 2012. If you agree that she should receive this honor, can you say why you think this should happen
It seems incredible to me that Carol Channing hasn’t ALREADY received this honor!  She’s an obvious choice, and, at this point, a glaring omission. She is an iconic performer, and a major part of Broadway history, not to mention the warmth and personality that endear her to many,  and her engagement in causes like education.

Most recent appearance
My latest cabaret show, “I’d Rather Be Doing This…” at the Metropolitan Room
Next appearance
Same show as above, on March 5th, but I am also going to be making my off-Broadway debut in March, in Urban Stage’s production of a new play, “My Occasion of Sin,” by Monica Bauer.

What is your biggest success in Show Business
I guess that would have to be the “Live From Lincoln Center” telecast of La Traviata, which won an Emmy for Best Cultural Program in that year. But I think really my biggest success is that I have been able to perform steadily for so many years, and am still performing and evolving.

What was your lowest low and how did you surpass that
For many years, I was plagued with vocal problems, stemming mostly from muscular tensions.  That caused me many moments of terror and anguish before big opera performances, and probably led to the loss of some jobs I might have had, and a bigger career.
 I think once I realized the direction I needed to do go in order to fix the problems, I felt I couldn’t give up until I had solved the mystery.  It took me many years, and I am still discovering; probably only a crazy person would have kept at it for so long! But I knew that everything I wanted to do, or could do, involved the use of my voice, so I just kept going.

What one change would you like to see in today’s industry?
the Oldest Living Bolshevik, from "Angels in America",  the opera
Gee, I don’t know.  I am new to the professional acting world, so that’s a hard question for me to answer. But off the bat, I would say I wish that Broadway would create its own stars, like in the old days, rather than just focusing on movie and television names to sell tickets. 
How do you deal with receiving invitations from friends/colleagues to events that are either too many or too costly to attend?
 It’s very hard; sometimes I am overwhelmed with the number of shows I want to see, or feel I should see.  If I can’t afford it, I just don’t go, and people will have to understand that.    

Otherwise, I try to see as many of my colleagues as I can. I really do feel like I’m going to shows all the time.

Are you happy at the point you are right now in your career?
I am very happy with the artistic level I’m achieving right now, in cabaret, in theater, and in opera.  I feel like I’m just hitting my stride as an artist, and I am very happy that there are good opportunities for me at the moment. But there is much I haven’t yet achieved, so I still have goals, and I still feel I can do much more, both in my personal artistic development, and my career.

Do you feel you have achieved what you set out to do?
I didn’t achieve all that I wanted as an opera singer, but I did do more than most, so now I am at peace with that.  And I am happy to be able to transition into these other performing areas with success.

What do you do to remain positive when life's hiccups get you down?
I let myself feel the pain and frustration, but usually I don’t stay in that place for long. There is no point in dwelling on things that don’t work out.  I am a great believer that what is mine will come to me, and what doesn’t isn’t the right thing anyway, even though at the time I might think it is.

How on earth do you reach theatregoers now that newspapers are obsolete and there are so many channels on TV you can’t pick the right ones to advertise on and with the web being so hit and miss.
Janice and director Peter Napolitano
How I wish I could answer this one!  I guess for everyone this is a brave new world, and, no doubt, much easier for the very young, who have grown up with all the technology.  The rest of us just have to learn what we can about what works nowadays and what doesn’t, and try to reconcile our artistic visions and goals with what might be marketable.
A genie pops out of the lamp, he grants you three wishes. What are those wishes?
 Money! Good health! Continuous performing work! (not necessarily in that order…)

If you could travel anywhere in the world and spend some time there, where would you choose, and what would you do?
I have never been to Greece, and have always wanted to go, mostly to see the ruins, and hear the music.  However, I guess this isn’t the best time to be going there, given the economic  turmoil.  I loved being in Australia, and would like to go back—I only saw a tiny portion of that country, so would love to travel around.

What is your favorite song? And yes, you can only pick one!!!
Oh, dear.  Well, I’ll choose something classical then; I think classical music carries the biggest emotional punch for me. The third of Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs, called “Beim Schlafengehen”, which translates basically as, “When I Go To Sleep.”  It’s exquisite.

What is the last stage show you saw.  Local or professional.  
I just saw the play “The Road to Mecca,” on Broadway, with Rosemary Harris and Jim Dale.  It was really terrific.

If you could change places with anyone in the world for 24 hours, who would that be and why?
Meryl Streep; I would like to experience what she experiences when she acts.

When do you know it’s time for another show?
When the previous one is finished!

 Do you make a living at this or do you have a survival job? Please elaborate on your thoughts on this
I have been very lucky to—so far—earn a living as a performer, and have never had a survival job. But opera pays better than cabaret or theater!  So now, I am trying to figure out how to earn a living, and I literally don’t understand how it is possible to work all day at something else, and still do your art, or be available to take performing jobs when they come along.  All my time is taken up with trying to grow and advance as an artist. It’s a real dilemma in my life right now.

What is your favorite compliment?
“You don’t sound like anyone else.”

  • Monday, March 5, 2012
  • 7:00pm until 10:00pm


2011 Bistro Award Winner Janice Hall in her new show "I'd Rather Be Doing This...".

She'll be singing some wonderful songs by Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Kurt Weill, Rodgers & Hammerstein, etc., plus the original title song written just for her by her musical director, Matthew Martin Ward, with lyrics by her director, Peter Napolitano. Also featuring Tony Romano on guitar.

$20.00 cover ($15 MAC, Cab Hotline) and 2-drink min.

FOR RESERVATIONS: 212-206-0440
or click on this direct link to the club's website:

"There are few things I would rather have been doing on a late Sunday afternoon in February than listening to the classy and elegant Hall ... haunting and ethereal ... impeccably heartfelt ... Hall chose to end her immensely satisfying set with Charles Chaplin’s “Smile" ... it was hard to find anyone in the Metropolitan Room who wasn’t smiling."
--- Stephen Hanks, Cabaret Scenes


 Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!

                                                  Tomorrow's blog will be... CELEBRATING THIS YEAR'S MAC (MANHATTAN ASSOCIATION OF CABARETS AND CLUBS) AWARD NOMINEES!

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

  Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL...with NO challenges!

Now, GO OUT AND see Carol Channing: Larger Than Life  now in theatres.


Richard Skipper,

      This blog is dedicated to ALL artists: Past, present, and future and the gifts they        give to the world !


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