Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Cabaret Month: Part ONE! 2018 Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs Nominees Sally Darling, Richard Holbrook, and Kim David Smith!

We will be Celebrating John Kander March 18th
Be a nuisance where it counts; Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, and disappointed at failure and the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption and bad politics—but never give up. -- Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Happy End of February!
Today is February 27th, 2018!
February 27 is the 58th day of the year. There are 307 days remaining until the end of the year. It is an absolutely gorgeous day here in New York. As I sit down to begin today's blog, I'm listening to Barbra Streisand. There is no better way to start a day than listening to great music. 
Boy, has February been a music-filled month for me. It is also my birthday month. I began the month by going to see  2018 MAC nominated Jeff Harnar and KT Sullivan's SONDHEIMmontage.
KT Sullivan and Jeff Harnar
Incredible show. If it repeats GO SEE THIS! Brilliantly directed by Sondra Lee. 
A few days later found me at Paul and Rochelle Chamlin Celebrate CD Release: The First 10 Years.  Another fun afternoon. The next day was my birthday Celebration show produced by Russ Woolley. He pulled out all the stops and gave me a celebration that will last a lifetime. Check out the brilliant opening montage put together by the equally brilliant Michael Masci. Click HERE.  All of these shows were done at my cabaret home, The Laurie Beechman Theatre.    
On Valentine's Day, Danny and I went to see Patrick Rinn's Variety Show at The Triad. FUN NIGHT! On Sunday, February 18th, we went to Joe Sirola's Handprint/Footprint Induction at Theatre 80. The next night found us at Birdland for Linda Purl with the Diva Orchestra. This is what Rex Reed had to say about the evening:
Mark Waldrop, Deb Winer, Rex Reed, Linda Purl
Great pipes, a swinging senses of time and tempo, musical as hell, hypnotic on ballads and powerful as a big-band vocalist on the rhythmic numbers,  Linda Purl is a perfect fit for DIVA.    It doesn't hurt that's she's also as gorgeous to look at as a Technicolor dream from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Linda Purl has got it all in one meteoric display of supersonic talent.  She fractures me!----REX REED
I concur! 

The month ended last night with
INCREDIBLE Lorna Dallas! What a great way to end the month and now we get ready for March: Cabaret Month!
How appropriate that John Kander was born in March. After all, he wrote Cabaret!
 We are celebrating John Kander's 91st Birthday! By we, I mean Donna Marie Asbury who is currently in Chicago. As a matter of fact, after our opening, she has to rush to the theatre for a matinee! She comes to me via David Sabella who was Mary Sunshine in this current revival when it began at Encores and with the transfer to Broadway.  He also had a great show last year at The Metropolitan Room called Loopin' The Loop celebrating his run in Chicago and his association with Kander and Ebb. LOVED THIS SHOW! Saw it twice. In the first show, he had Jana Robbins and they performed a hilarious duet that was cut from The Visit. I asked if they would recreate this and they agreed. They also will each do a solo as well. Jana did Zorba with two separate tours with Georgio Tozzi and Theodore Bikel AND played Sally Bowles in Westchester Dinner
Lucia and Steve Schachlin perform William's Song at the BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards
Theatre's production of Cabaret which I saw long before I knew Jana personally! Lucia Spina of Kinky Boots and others did a Kander and Ebb tribute at Feinstein's three years ago Created and directed by Scott Coulter.  Sandy Stewart introduced Kander and Ebb's first song, My Coloring Book. She will
Happy Birthday, David Sabella!
be joined by her son two time Grammy nominee Bill Charlap not only on this but another great Kander and Ebb song. Rounding out the cast is Tony Award winner Lillias White recreating her star turn as  Matron Mama Morton in Chicago. 
As if that isn't enough, the afternoon will open with a video montage celebrating the life and career of John Kander
We have a phenomenal band all under the direction of Fred Barton

On Broadway, Fred Barton was Associate Conductor of the 1987 revival of Cabaret, directed by Hal Prince and starring Joel Grey, Regina Resnik, and Werner Klemperer.
He also served as Associate Conductor of "Zorba", starring Anthony Quinn, as well as the national touring production of Camelot starring Robert Goulet, and the Los Angeles and national touring productions of City of Angels. That is just the tip of the iceberg of his creditsfor him. 
He will be joined by Rex Benincasa on percussion, Steve Doyle on bass, and Grammy Award-winning saxophonist, Erik Lawrence.

David Sabella's multi-octave tenor achieves incredible majesty on sustained notes, with a delicate vibrato and modulations that testify to his technical expertise.” — John Hoglund

Sabella gives a refined, superior performance. — Ben Brantley, New York Times

David Sabella is a risk taker.” — Barbara and Scott Siegel, TheaterMania.com
David Sabella seen here with Wayne Brady
David… you have prepared this aria very well. You will sing this aria very beautifully on the winner’s concert like you are doing now. I don’t have to hear to the end. This is excellent, not good, excellent!” — Luciano Pavarotti 

In the world of film, the granddaddy of all Awards shows, of course, is the Oscars, which take place this Sunday night. In the world of cabaret, the Bistro Awards, this year on March 12th, traditionally kicks off the month. 
I'm starting a new series today to give you a chance to get to know our nominees (ALL WINNERS) a little bit better. Go see their shows. 
2017 MAC Awards: Sidney Myer
They all are the best of the best. Today, I'm celebrating a MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Nominee for  Female Vocalist and Two Of The Male Vocalist Nominees. 

Sally Darling
Sally Darling's first professional role as an actress was Anna in The King and I with Leonard Graves. 

She has since performed with Barry Manilow, James MacArthur, David Carradine, Katharine Houghton, Sarah Rice, Hal Linden...In the '70s, she created and staged three revues of the music of Noel Coward and Cole Porter, then created a
Noel Coward
fourth for the Theatre Guild which she tailored for Patricia Morrison, Larry Kert, Dick Shawn and Tony Tanner. She has won awards for her compelling voice and her unmatched interpretive skills.
Ms. Darling has created nine completely new shows, five with the late Paul Trueblood, and four with her current musical director Matthew Martin Ward.

Mr. Trueblood started Ms. Darling on her cabaret path,  Matthew Martin Ward has taken her even further.

What does THIS nomination mean to you?  
This nomination is very meaningful in that it comes for the second year in a row. 

That means that my peers are aware of my work and value it, and that’s pure gold to me!

What Are you reading now?

What is your bookstore wishlist? 

Favorite anecdote re career:  
As a narrator for the Talking Book program for the Library of Congress, I read many, many novels with all sorts of characters and accents. 
One day the head reviewer came up from Washington, came into my recording booth and introduced himself. I was told there were bets on in Washington as to just who or what I was, and he came in to see for himself! 

Greatest experience in the profession:
 I was booked to play Anna in a summer stock production of The King and I. I got a call from an upstate theater in urgent need of an Anna. They were three days away from performance and their King and Anna had just run off together! To my delight, the last minute King replacement was Leonard Graves, Yul Brynner’s understudy, who’d played the role over a thousand times on Broadway (Yul liked to go skiing). There was no time for nerves; we were two professionals getting on with it. “What do you want to do here?”, etc. Afterward, his wife said she’d asked him what that first session was like and he said: “She makes it so easy.”
Accolade indeed.

Have you ever considered teaching a class?  
Yes, I’ve taught acting.

Awards Won:  
The MAC Hanson Award in 2016, the Bistro in 2017, MAC Award nominations 2017 and 2018.  What do they mean? Validation. My work has been recognized by my peers and found to be of value. As I said, that’s pure gold!

I’ve had a long and widely varied career (several careers in one!) and I’m grateful for every new challenge, every new opportunity. Each show is a risk, and each gives me that vital element in life - purpose!
For more info on Sally Darling, please visit her Website

Richard Holbrook
Nominated Best Male Vocalist RICHARD HOLBROOK
The Many Moods of Christmas
Don’t Tell Mama
Congratulations on your MAC nomination! What does THIS nomination mean to you?  
Thank you Richard!! I am thrilled. I'm also speechless because there were so many male vocalists who, along with myself, submitted their names on the MAC preliminary ballot. I think there were, including myself, about eighteen names all told.  I knew that only the names with the top four or five votes would be on the final ballot and any one of those artists on the preliminary list could have filled those four or five slots so I didn't expect anything. I thought if I get nominated, great. If not, there's always next year. But you see, that's what makes being selected on the final ballot so great. The fact that enough of my peers voted for me to make it happen.

What Are you reading now?
I just finished reading a fascinating memoir called "The Men In My Life" by Patricia Bosworth, who started out as a fine actress but who also later became a superb writer. If you are familiar with the brilliant 1959 film "The Nun's Story", it starred Audrey Hepburn and Peter Finch and was directed by Fred Zinnemann. Patricia Bosworth had a small but key role as a fellow postulant who joins the same Catholic religious order in Belgium as Audrey Hepburn's character of Sister Luke. Ms. Bosworth later wrote wonderful biographies of Montgomery Clift, Jane Fonda, Marlon Brando, and Diane Arbus. Her book covers her life as an actress from 1953 to 1963 and ends as she is about to start writing professionally. In her memoir, she tells marvelous anecdotes not only about working with Audrey Hepburn, but also her association with The Actors Studio and its many members such as Marilyn Monroe, Elia Kazan, Steve McQueen, and of course, Lee Strasberg. It is superbly written and I definitely recommend it. 
Since I am performing a centennial musical cabaret salute to  Alan Jay Lerner, I have also read Edward Jablonski's biography on the legendary lyricist and am now reading Dominic McHugh's recent book "Alan Jay Lerner: A Lyricist's Letters". 

What is your bookstore wish list?
Dominic McHugh's newest book on Lerner to be released on March 1st - "The Complete Lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner"

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career? 
My favorite anecdote is when I finally got to perform at The Metropolitan Room, there were doubts from quite a few people as to whether or not I could sufficiently fill the room with an audience. However, with my intensive marketing, which also included being interviewed by entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon of WABC-TV Channel 7 Eyewitness News, I was able to fully pack the room to the shock of many people. In fact, Bernie Furshpan, the booker of The Metropolitan Room, was so impressed to say the least, he told me "you could give lessons in marketing and publicity."  Since that time, Bernie has loved me for life. That's become my favorite anecdote in my career. 
What has been your greatest experience in this profession?  
My greatest experience in this profession has been my ability not only to use my God-given gifts of voice and performance skill to entertain an audience but also to touch people with my singing - by making them feel the emotion of the song through my interpretation. And that ability has taken a long time for me to master. 
I also take pride in constantly growing and challenging myself with either new material or material that I never thought  I would be able to do. 
So, I've learned to not be afraid to take chances. And I've found in doing that, I've been able to open myself up to new opportunities as a cabaret performer.  

Have you ever considered teaching a class?  
Believe it or not, the thought has crossed my mind a few times but, and I'm not trying to put myself down in any way, I still feel I have a lot to learn before I take on the role of a teacher.  
Interestingly, a few years back, I was speaking to a fellow cabaret performer about cabaret singers reviewing other cabaret artists on their performances. 
At one point,  this person suggested I look into writing reviews of cabaret artists but felt that I didn't
feel qualified to be a critic of a fellow performer because I feel I'm still learning.

What Awards have you won and what does that mean to you to be honored by your peers.  
I haven't yet won any awards in cabaret. 
I have been nominated for a MAC Award as Best Male Vocalist four times and like I said, to be selected from a long list of names from a preliminary ballot to being one of the top four on the final ballot means A LOT. That alone is a great achievement. I'm not only proud of the work that I have done over the years but also proud to have acquired a fine reputation as a singer and performer where my fellow cabaret performers (comrades, if you will) have acknowledged and respected me for what I have contributed to the New York cabaret community by nominating me for this great honor. 
Do I want to win? 
Of course, I do. But if I don't win, that's okay because I feel as if I've already been rewarded many times over by my peers with their acknowledgment, recognition, and respect for my work.

What Inspired You To Be An Entertainer?

A final statement for my blog 
When I first started in show business, I wanted to be an actor. However, my life took on a different path over the years. I started concertizing. Then, I discovered cabaret and through the years of doing and learning, I was able to fully utilize my talents not only as a singer but also as an actor in effectively interpreting the lyrics of a song. With cabaret, I found my niche. As a result, I love my work and I'm proud of it - and I'm very proud to be part of a thriving cabaret community.

What Inspired You To Be An Entertainer?
I  think what initially inspired me was watching old movies on television when I was a child, particularly movie musicals. It was my grandmother who introduced me to the wonderful movies of the 1930's and 1940's on New York local stations such as WNEW Channel 5 with their program Movie Greats, WOR-TV Channel
9's Million Dollar Movie (with the classic Tara's Theme from Gone With The Wind), and let us not forget, WCBS-TV Channel 2 with their Late Show and Late Late Show (remember the theme song - Leroy Anderson's The Syncopated Clock?). It was on The Late Show that Channel 2 showed many of the great M-G-M musicals and there I was introduced to the magic of Astaire, Kelly, and Garland. And I was hooked!! I thought that's what I want to do when I grow up. I want to sing and perform. And now, I'm still pursuing that passion - AND I'M LOVING IT!!

Kim David Smith
Nominated Best Male Vocalist for Morphium Kabarett at Pangea

Described by Broadway World as the "David Bowie of cabaret," "slyly subversive" by the Wall Street Journal, and labeled the "male Marlene Dietrich" by the New York Times, Kim David Smith, hailing from Australia, is a Helpmann Award-nominated singer and cabaret performer, based in New York. 

Smith recently starred as Salomé in Oscar Wilde's classic and controversial play as part of the Provincetown Theater’s 2017 season, while 2016 saw Kim portray the Emcee in Hunter Foster's production of "Cabaret" at the Cape Playhouse, to excellent reviews.

Conjuring the glitter, doom, and decadence of 1920's
Berlin, Smith's piano-based one-man programme, Morphium Kabarett, provides an intimate evening of German, French and English repertoire, subtly intertwining Piaf, Hollaender, Dietrich and Weill with The Supremes, Kylie Minogue, Madonna and many unexpected others.  

Smith has toured Morphium Kabarett throughout Australia, earning a 2015 Helpmann Award nomination for Best Cabaret Performer, while also enjoying performances at New York City's Joe's Pub, and Café Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie. Musically directed by Tracy Stark, Morphium Kabarett garnered enthusiastic praise from The New York Times in its six-month 2016 residency at Pangea, which celebrated the whimsy and wickedness of New York City's alt-cabaret scene, with a curated parade of guest-artists, including Joey Arias, KT Sullivan, opera's Anthony Roth Costanzo, and innumerable others.

In 2009 Smith was presented with the Back Stage Magazine Bistro Award for Special Achievement as an Outstanding Performer (honored alongside Liza Minnelli and Charles Aznavour). His electro-pop albums Nova, Supernova, and cabaret EP, The Tease, are available on iTunes and Amazon.

Congratulations on your MAC nomination! What does THIS nomination mean to you?  
If feels really lovely to experience a nod like this from the New York cabaret community.
We all work hard to get our names out there, and I really appreciate this opportunity to open the door a little more on my work and my musical collaborations with fellow nominee Tracy Stark

What Are you reading now? 
My boyfriend and I are both reading Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (another male Kim! How dare he!), and it is AMAZING. I am a huge fantasy and sci-fi nerd, and I’m having a fabulous time diving into the terraforming of Mars and all the insane relationships developing in this, the first of Robinson’s Mars series. 

What is your bookstore wish list? 
My wishlist consists of the rest of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series, and anything that can hold a candle to Tolkien’s efforts — I’m always thirsting for more good fantasy. I’m also in the market for anything dealing with the Victorian era, and Victorian mores, more specifically. 

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career? 
I don’t know that I have a specific anecdote that glitters above all others, but what I love most about my career to date is the people that I’ve come to know and love through making music and touring. 
Sure, I’ve had lights go out on my pianist during Song of Black Max, and she’s played it from memory — in the dark (Bolcom isn’t easy in the light, let alone in pitch black!), and I had someone have a heart attack and die during a performance of 42nd Street while we were tapping
enthusiastically to We’re in the Money, but I think it really is about all the wonderful people I’ve met. 

What has been your greatest experience in this profession?  
I’m a ham, but I have to say performing for my boyfriend for the first time. I was so nervous! I was also really nervous for my Don’t Tell Mama debut in 2008, but had my then director (and beloved friend), Karen Kohler, in the audience
and my side for all the rehearsals and the lead-up, so I wasn’t a total mess.

Have you ever considered teaching a class?  
I’m trying to think on what I’d teach…feigned nonchalance? Five easy steps to angry up the blood using only Kurt Weil music? How to read Lord of The Rings with all the right voices? I’d consider any of those. 
Add one question I should ask the next MAC nominated person that I did not ask you.  
Who is your chief musical inspiration? For me, it’s Kylie Minogue! Even though almost all my borrowed repertoire originated between the wars in Germany, her present-day, stadium-sized poise, glow, and stamina has inspired me on the small stage for decades.  
What Awards have you won and what does that mean to you to be honored by your peers.
Photo Credit: Travis Chanter
In 2009,  I received the Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award from the Bistro Award Committee, and to this day feel an emotional cocktail of surprise, delight, and disbelief about it.
Liza Minnelli and Charles Aznavour were also honored that night, and the ceremony is frozen blissfully in my mind as a very magical occasion — I think my favorite moment was being introduced by Lennie Watts, who, in reference to my bio in the program said “before Kim Smith came along, I was the androgynous beauty of downtown cabaret.” 
My press materials were a touch more extravagant then!  

KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler previous MAC Award winners. 
A final statement for my blog 
Growing up in rural Australia, I never really conceived I’d be living and working in faraway NYC, let alone being celebrated for it, so I’m just really grateful and enjoying the glow of this moment. 
I’ll be channeling all my excitement into my upcoming performing at the Neue Galerie on March 8th, and will be all abuzz at the MAC ceremony in March!

Now, go out and Do Something Nice For Someone Without Expecting Anything In Return!

Here are a Few Testimonials for Richard Skipper Celebrates: Next One March 18th 1PM Laurie Beechman Theater:

With 2015 MAC Nominee Peggy Eason
Richard Skipper Celebrates Carol Channing on Her 97th Birthday was a party with a marvelous host and a group of his very talented friends. I wasn’t just an audience member, I was a fellow celebrant. The wonderful stories and songs and a sensational video made it feel like Carol was in the room with all of us.
-Joshua Ellis
with 2018 MAC Nominee Natasha Castillo

I was so happy that Judy Ferber and I attended Richard Skipper's Christmas cabaret on Sun. 12/3, thanks to Arlene Jacks, who recommended it very highly.  What a great experience - it was fun, heartwarming and sentimental.  Great performers and great audience!  What a treat to see Kathryn Crosby - that really took me back in time to all the Bing Crosby Christmas specials.  I can't wait to attend the celebration of Carol Channing's 97th birthday on Jan. 31 with another friend of ours as well as Richard's birthday celebration in Feb.  Richard: you and your team are a class act!
Diane Merklinger, Briarwood, New York

Interviewing Ann Kittredge in Richard Skipper Celebrates December 3rd
Richard Skipper Celebrated all over the Laurie Beechman stage December 3rd, 2017. Nothing could've been Christmas-ier. If you needed a little Christmas, this was the place to soak in it, being a tinseled treat of warmth and holiday cheer. It was wonderful to see Bobby Belfry, Ann Kittredge, Sidney Myer, and Deborah Stone all at the top of their respectively unique yuletide cabaret games under the musical direction of Tracy Stark and the band. The show opened with a charmingly nostalgic credit crawl designed by Michael Masci and a video sequence featuring the great variety TV stars of the past, concluding with Mr. Christmas himself Bing Crosby. The highlight of the show, or any Holiday show happening in 2017, would have to be Ms. Kathryn Crosby, Bing's widow, singing first "Holly Jolly Christmas" and of course ending with "White Christmas." That's Christmas right there. Richard tied it all together with great showmanship. His Richard Skipper Celebrates series produces some of the livelier and most just-plain-fun events in Cabaret.
-Jeff Macauley
March 18th, 2018 

Russ Woolley Proudly Presents
Richard Skipper Celebrates
John Kander... On His 91st Birthday!

1 PM Brunch Show Laurie Beechman Theater  

Confirmed to perform are Tony Award winner Lilias WhiteDonna Marie Asbury currently in
Chicago on Broadway, Jana Robbins (Zorba with two separate tours with Georgio Tozzi and Theodore Bikel), Lucia Spina (Kinky Boots), David Sabella (originated Mary Sunshine in the current revival of Chicago on Broadway), and Sandy Stewart (My Coloring Book) and two-time Grammy nominee Bill Charlap
Click HERE to Order Your Tickets Today!

Thank you, to ALL who are mentioned in this blog for showing me that it is up to ME to lead by example!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

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Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

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