Wednesday, November 22, 2017

John McMahon, Robin Kradles, Jesse Luttrell...and SO MUCH MORE!

John McMahon
A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.
— John A. Shedd

Happy Thanksgiving!
Today is November 22. November 22 is the 326th day of the year.  There are 39 days remaining until the end of the year.
My career continues to be the main driving force in my life. I sometimes grow anxious when I measure my current position against where I desire to be. I used to also compare myself to the successes of others in this business. However,I won't compare my long-term goals with your immediate situation because progress is gradual and isn’t always measurable by what’s obvious.
Also, rather than comparing myself to what others are doing, I celebrates the successes of others as well as my own. I also look at the 'hidden' gems of each day. Today marks the 54th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. Mae West died 37 years ago today in Los Angeles, California age 87. Yesrerday, David Cassidy passed on at the age of 67, same age as my dad when he passed on. Earlier this week, Della Reese passed on. I'm reminded daily how precious LIFE is! Carpe Diem!
 Get out of the house and walk to your favorite cabaret room and/or theater and GO SEE A LIVE ACT!
Today, I am celebrating three artists who are creating great art and that I am thankful to know.

The first is John McMahon. I have known John longer than I can remember. Most of the time, he is accompanying someone else. He is a MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) winner, but this time out, he is back in the center ring, reprising his 2016 one-man show, Bottoms Up! Playing for one night only, on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 7 PM at Don't Tell Mama. He took the time for a quickie interview...
John McMahon

with cabaret greats Phyllis Pastore and Mary Foster Conklin

If you were not doing cabaret right now, what would you want to be doing?
Probably an accountant/CPA, which is what I did on Wall Street as a survival job when I first got to NYC.

Over your years of music, do you have a particularly interesting story that you'd like to share with the readers?  Once, playing auditions for Rupert Holmes, of The Pina Colada Song fame (actually called “Escape”), he told me of the first time The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was going to play it. He was so excited. Now, the song has a calypso feel with straight eighth notes, but The Doc Severinsen Band, any time they saw straight eighth notes,

just ASSUMED you wanted to “swing it”. So, he’s out there about to sing. realizing they were going to swing the whole tune and it was too late to do anything.

Who have you worked with who had the biggest impact on you?   
Broadway orchestrator William D. Brohn, who was my mentor in college and encouraged me to move to NYC.  (He passed away earlier this year).

What's the best thing you've seen in NYC and why?
Recently? Probably HELLO, DOLLY! with Bette Midler. Also, Cynthia Erivo’s performance in THE COLOR PURPLE.

What do you do to stay connected to your creative self?
Try as much as possible to tune out what other people are doing.

What person do you most admire, living or dead?
Richard Rodgers

Robin Kradles
I sent my interview questions to Robin and in pure Robin style, she answered them and put them in a nice little package as a narrative. Enjoy!
Darling, my new show is titled Gambling On Love and grew out of a gig I was asked to do at the fabulous gala, Night of a Thousand Gowns which this past year had a Casino Royale theme. I loved the material so much that it just begged to be explored in the more intimate setting of a cabaret room. I must say that performing for hundreds of people on a 50ft long runway is a rather different…and daunting...experience!

You asked who are the artistic heroes in my life. That was, of course, the subject of my debut show, Icons — The Women Who Inspire Me. Those women truly were icons of their own day and
remain vivid today, women who, to this day, need but one name: Peggy, Judy, Ella, Sarah, Billie, Barbra…and those who are a bit less well known like Cleo Laine and Nancy Wilson. They all are or were vocally masterful and delightful to experience, but even more importantly they breathed life into the lyrics they sing. And isn’t that what cabaret is all about…telling the truth through story and song? Through my immersion in the cabaret world I’ve come to know so many contemporary singers, both women and men, who are truly great interpreters of song. What an enriching journey it’s been.

Singing is the great joy of my life now but you’d never have predicted it from my childhood which was as musically bleak as the winter scenery in my Minnesota home town. All that is changed now largely through acceptance into the wonderful warm community that is New York cabaret. I especially value and adore my
Rick Jensen
musical director and fellow Minnesotan, Rick Jensen, and the true genius of the art form, whom I’m lucky to call my director, Lennie Watts. Without them I’d still be flapping my drag queen lips silently to the recordings of those icons I list above. Reinterpreting great songs through my own unique voice is incredibly satisfying.

I will be attending Robin's show on Saturday night. If you would like to join our party, please email me at

On November 5th, I was lucky to have Jesse Luttrell as our Mystery Guest in Richard Skipper The Laurie Beechman Theater here in NYC.
Next month, Jesse will be appearing at Feinstein's/54 Below. ONE NIGHT ONLY! Jan 19th. Now's the time to save your coin and buy those tickets in advance. Jesse Luttrell unleashes his shattering voice and post-modern vaudevillian style in a high-octane evening of classic swing, pop, and show songs. Jesse’s repertoire runs the gamut from songs of Jule Styne, Cy Coleman and Rodgers and Hart, to
Jesse Luttrell
Anthony Newley, Jerry Herman specialties, and Peter Allen showstoppers. Jesse’s show features new arrangements created by Fred Barton, who leads his 8-piece Broadway Band. Jesse is a concert and recording artist, and longtime cabaret and feature musical theatre performer.
"Clearly this is a showman of the first order."

Here is the result of our pop-up interview.

What person do you most admire, living or dead?
BOB FOSSE.  I loved his candid and and sardonic view of show business.  Besides his signature choreographic style he could find absolute esoteric poetry in complete stillness.

Fred Barton and Jesse Luttrell
What’s a super New York-y thing to do that you’ve never done (however you define “New York-y”)?
I've never eaten at Delmonico's and I'm dying to go.  I'm single.. find me a date with a waistline and a job and make the reservation!

How did you and Fred Barton come together in the first place? What is it that you like most working with him?
Fred who?  Just kidding... we met down in a dark moldy basement on grove street where I was soaked in vodka singing "Swanee" at the top of my lungs.
He saw/heard something and said "kid you got it..." and the rest is history! The thing I love most about working with Fred is that he approaches our arrangements from the point of view of an actor.
We're cut from the same showbiz cloth so we often know exactly where an arrangement is going to end up before I even start singing through it.

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