Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Cabaret Month: Dawn Derow, Dorothy Bishop, Jason Ellis...and MORE!

2018 MAC Nominee Dawn Derow
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Happy March 7th, 2018!
March 7 is the 66th day of the year. There are 299 days remaining until the end of the year.
We are in the midst of a Nor'easter here in New York. Today, I continue with my Cabaret Month series celebrating the best that cabaret has to offer these days. This is the moment in the limelight at work for these artists celebrated in my blog today.  Before we celebrate the present and future, let's celebrate the past.
On this date in 1941, you would have been listening to Frenesi by Artie Shaw and His Orchestra.
That is in honor of Dawn Derow's My Ship, celebrating the music of 1941. Dawn is nominated for a MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) for Female Vocalist.
On this date in 1961, the year I was born, people in the US were listening to Pony Time by Chubby
David Bowie released his 9th studio album Young Americans on this day, 7th March 1975.
Recorded (“about 85% live” - Tony Visconti) in Philadelphia and New York City, US.
Artwork inspired by a 1974 front cover of After Dark magazine featuring Toni Basil.

New Order released their 12” single “Blue Monday” 35 years ago today, 7th March 1983, on Factory Records (FAC 73).
The biggest selling 12” single of all time, and every copy sold had one drumbeat missing - the first oneMusic is a constant in our lives. Styles change. Artists come and go but we hold on to the memories they gave us. As I celebrate these artists, please go see them and offer your support.

2018 MAC Nominee Female Vocalist
My Ship: Songs from 1941
Laurie Beechman, Crown and Anchor (Provincetown)Congratulations on your MAC nomination!
Dawn Derow grew up on Cape Cod, MA, and began performing at the age of 8 . Her musical career has taken her around the world, expertly singing many styles from opera to pop, and from cruise ships to the legendary venues like Birdland and Carnegie Hall, where she performed in “It’s De-Lovely: A  125th Birthday Celebration of Cole Porter" in 2016.

Her musical career has taken her around the world, expertly singing many styles from opera to pop, and from cruise ships to the legendary venues like Birdland and Carnegie Hall, where she performed in “It’s De-Lovely: A  125th Birthday Celebration of Cole Porter" in 2016.

She made her UK debut at London’s Fringe Theater as Maria in an international cast of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Some of her theatrical credits include Diana Steed in The Human Comedy, the role of Cathy in The Last Five Years, Cosette in a concert version of Les Miserable where she played opposite American Idols; Constantine Maroulis as Marius and Antonia in Man of La Mancha with the Gallery Players.

In 2008, Dawn made her cabaret debut at the Duplex Theater in NYC with her show Shooting My Arrow. In the past decade, she has produced eight cabaret shows (both solo and group) around New York City.  In 2011, her 4th show Music 4 Two a duo show with the talented guitarist Sean Harkness.
with Sean Harkness
After a handful of performances at Don’t Tell Mama’s, the duo moved their run to Metropolitan Room for a February 19, 2012 LIVE recording of the show. The CD of Music 4 Two was nominated for a 2014 MAC Award. Her work in the 2015 duo show REVOLUTION (with Kathleen France) won a MAC Award for Best Revue. On the heels of that show, she put her opera chops to formidable use in LEGIT, winning the 2016 Bistro Award for Outstanding Vocalist. Legit was Musical Directed by Mark Janas and Directed by Lina Koutrakos.  Much of 2017 and 2018 have been dedicated to her critically lauded performances of “MY SHIP ~ songs from 1941” running at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in Manhattan. When she isn’t singing, Derow is running her five-year-old fitness and wellness company; DIVINE BODY BALANCE.
She is dedicated to fitness through balanced practices of exercise and nutrition. Go to  WWW.DIVINEBODYBALANCE.COM to learn more.
from Dawn, Jeff Harnar as director and the late Barry Levitt as musical director and music arranger, which debuted to a

To Find her upcoming performances around the New England, NY and DC area go to her website…

For more information on her upcoming engagements and recordings, email her at

What does THIS nomination mean to you?
Thanks, Richard! Well, you were “on board” in the beginning so it’s super special to be interviewed by you... and I always love your support. This nomination means everything to me right now. Maybe that sounds cliche but the past six months have been rewarding and at the same time a struggle (both personally and emotionally) Its been a very traumatic time.
The loss of Maestro and original Musical Director Barry Levitt is forever with me, daily. I know many of us miss him terribly. If I could win this for him it would mean everything!!!

The Maestro Barry Levitt
To be honest, I was a little disappointed MY SHIP~ Songs from 1941 wasn’t chosen for “Show of the year” based on rave reviews, high attendance and the buzz around town.
I am not sure how it slipped through the committee's hands.
Mostly because I thought it would have made the list to honor of Barry as one of the last shows he worked on.
So it’s up to me to “bring home the gold”. Also,  I am very pleased that both Jeff Harnar and Ian Herman are nominated in director and musical director category.

As a whole, personally winning this would be a tremendous acknowledgment towards the work I have put in not only on this show, but all the shows I’ve done over the past 10 years in the MAC community- 2018 is my 10 years anniversary!

What Are you reading now?
I start a lot of books and then never get around to reading them. I keep saying in 2018 I’m going to read more.
But just recently I picked up a copy of DAVID FRIEDMAN’s We Can Be Kind - I heard him speak about the book at Dutch Treat at the Players Club, and I thought this is exactly what I need right now.
Otherwise, I go through a lot of magazines- Time, the New Yorker... Cabaret Scenes... and then my yoga journal magazine and fitness blogs. Recently I picked up a book about the Summer of 67 - the summer of Love... hmmm might be fodder for my next show.

What is your bookstore wish list
Haha.. like I said, I have so many books I haven’t gotten to- my wish list is more downtime to read them.

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career?

There are so many, but in sticking with the current theme of MY SHIP~ Songs from 1941 ... I have to say my collaboration with Barry and Jeff and how magical it was. I miss it! Thankfully it’s all recorded on my phone. Those sweet moments when the 3 Of us would click on an idea.
That’s what I love about the process.
I don’t always articulate my words or ideas in the most brilliant sophisticated way - but when you work with people who are truly connected with you, they can fill in the blanks, or take your half-idea and make it whole... that is magical.

What has been your greatest experience in this profession? 

Carnegie Hall!! I got to perform a duet with Marcus Goldhaber in 2016 at the Cole Porter Tribute show through the  Mabel Mercer Foundation. Thanks to KT Sullivan who picked us to sing “Let’s do it, let’s fall in love”.
At the time, I was dating Marcus, I told him; “We are gonna choreograph a dance break in the middle of the song” We did! It was a hit, and will always remain close to my heart.

Have you ever considered teaching a class? 
I am constantly teaching  (about the human body, yoga, health, fitness) all day.
But I keep trying to brainstorm something to do with yoga and singing. I once taught a yoga class for Singers.. and currently, I have a bunch of clients who are in the Cabaret World. Come train with me!!
Sometimes I think I would like to try directing a show... maybe in the future

What is your show-day ritual?

REVOLUTION - Kathleen France and Dawn Derow by The Duplex on July 1, 2015 in New York, NY
What Awards have you won and what does that mean to you to be honored by your peers?
In 2015, I first won my MAC award for the duo show Revolution with Kathleen France... actually Richard, you called our name!
Lennie Watts
We are so proud of that with Musical director Andrew David Sotomayor and Lennie Watts as director.
Then in 2016, I received a Bistro award for my work on Legit: A Classic Cabaret with Mark Janas as musical director and Lina Koutrakos as director. Super proud moment for me. That show was a marathon to sing, so to be honored with a Bistro was another one of my favorite nights.
Being honored this year by my peers is so special because it means that people have good taste and they get it, they are pulled in by the magic. So many audience members came up to me after this show saying “this is the best show I have ever seen”, or “this is more like a one-woman show than a cabaret, you should be playing in an off-broadway house”. Thoseare the people that come, support and get swept away by the whole production. It’s not about me, Dawn Derow... it’s so much bigger than that.
 Sometimes cabaret can be so self-indulgent, and I have seen somewhere I sit there going “why, what’s the point?” Make me care, not just about you the artist, but the music, message, and the story.
My Ship - you are literally transported to a time that no longer exists - through the music of 1941, we all need and want that escapism.
So to those peers who saw the show and LOVED it, and were swept away - I say THANK YOU and AHOY MATIES!!

A final statement for my blog 
If you did not get a chance to see "MY SHIP~ SONGS FROM 1941" - you can watch 1/2 of it on my Youtube Channel - Just go to Dawn Derow on youtube and it will pop up. And here's a little "sizzle reel" by Michael Lee Stever -

Thank you for your consideration for the 2018 female vocalist MAC Award.

The Dozen Divas Show
Metropolitan Room
"Bishop has New York audiences in stitches"
-- New York Post

 “Novel and hysterical!  She can really sing and she NAILS it!” –Huffington Post

Blessed with a voice capable of opera, Broadway, and pop, she creates funny but appreciative portraits of the women we love.   – Michael Musto

In the smash Off-Broadway hit Spamilton, Dorothy Bishop ruthlessly impersonates divas from Liza Minnelli to Barbra Streisand, with Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone along the way.
But Spamilton hardly scratches the surface of Dorothy's talent for mimicry.
In her fast-paced one-woman show The Dozen Divas, she does Liza and Barbra… and Stevie and

Adele and Cher… and, well, too many others to mention!

The Dozen Divas has already been nominated for two Broadway World Awards and two Mac Awards for best musical comedy show in the past.  In between stints with Spamilton, Dorothy squeezed in a triumphant Mexican tour of "Divas" during which she headlined at the beautiful Red Room in Puerto Vallarta.
She was spotted inThe Dozen Divas by the music director of Spamilton, Broadway conductor Fred Barton.
He was bowled over: "Dorothy's innate sunny sense of humor and goodheartedness transcends all – but her true secret weapon lies in the sky-high quality and range of her own native, superlative singing."

What Are you reading now?
Richard Skippers Blog 😌

What is your bookstore wish list
I'm more of an online/youtube/article gal these days.  I love documentaries, how to videos, political blogs. Call me ADD. Lol

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career? 
When I first got my Equity card, I ran to an audition for the musical of Joan Crawford’s Johnny Guitar.  I was dressed in a fur coat and heels.  Suddenly I noticed the people in line were really rough looking.  I was like “damn these actors are really going method for this audition”  Found out I was in the soup kitchen line.  Like for hours.  The Equity call was at the church next door.

How do you give back your art/passion to younger artists and the community? 
I teach voice.  I do master classes.  I’m part-time at AMDA now.  It’s been amazing to work with these young kids.  I’ve learned so much.

What are you currently working on? How did this project come about? What is it that you like most about doing what you are currently doing?  
I’m always adding new divas to my act and creating new parody videos for FB and Youtube.  Love making people laugh. It’s my favorite thing ever.  Currently working on a new Adele, Celine Dion, Cyndi Lauper.

Nominee Technical Director
Don't Tell Mama, 53 Above Groovin' on a Sunday, Don't Tell Mama, 53 Above; Unexpected Trio (Meg Flather, Rosemary Loar, Tracy Stark), 53 Above; Escape to
Ukulele Island, 53 Above; Liquid Sky Night: New Wave, 53 Above; Spotlight on You Open Mic, 53 Above

What is it about small, intimate venues that draw you to cabaret?
When you're in a small room of people during some magical, musical moment- The experience is uniquely exhilarating.   And, every night at the Cabaret is unique.  Whether its high or low art, unfolding perfectly or disastrously, it's its own moment in time.  It's an invariably emotional, often indelible experience, that you'll never really be able to explain.  But you share it with the people that were there.  A roomful of strangers leaves with something in common.  That's what I love most.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a technical director?
Equipment. Equipment can have a cruel sense of humor.  Its favorite joke is to work fine with the sound check but fail onstage.

How do you manage it all? In other words, how do you balance a personal life with a professional life? 
Aside from Facebook, my personal life is really just creating and/or arranging shows. 
The only time I see any of my friends is when I call them and ask them to do something crazy onstage with me.   Happily, my work is fairly social.  One thing that's great about doing tech for cabaret shows is that you get to see a lot of cabaret shows!  I also take in the occasional professional wrestling match at MSG with my wonderful girlfriend.

How did you come up with a lighting design for a show? 
First, Identify the highest and lowest emotional moments of the running order, which become the brightest and darkest lighting cues.  From there try to build intensity with lighting that is appropriate to the songs.  Make each number unique and perfect for the moment the artist is trying to create while escalating the tension towards the shows finishing the arc.

Who are the important teachers in your life? And of those, who would you credit the most for your professional success? 
That's a wonderful question!  I worship these people:
For directing- Bob Moss of playwrights horizons.

For acting - Marleen Pennison, a Martha Graham disciple, and possibly the smartest person I've ever met.

Musical Theater Performance- a gifted man named David Bucknam who passed away at age 32.

For cabaret tech - Bobby Kneeland.  He really cared about this work, and his care allowed me to understand and respect the work. And what stories he had!

For cabaret as theater, and in general: Sidney Myer.  A living legend!  For all the right reasons.
Sidney Myer 

Who are your biggest musical influences?  
I do love the great American songbook.  And jazz from Gershwin to Coltrane, as well as free jazz.  I love great lyricists like Donald Swann, Craig Carnelia, David Byrne, and Del the funky homo sapien.  But most deeply I am moved by New Wave Music, 90's NYC underground hip-hop, and folk songs from 1400-1800 (its a long story).

What are the next three shows you have coming up?
Coming soon!  March 18th- Groovin' on a Sunday, a long-running event that is so good, only depraved criminals would neglect to nominate it for a variety show award.

March 28th - Liquid Sky New Wave Night 2!  An electronic departure from Cabaret norms, an amusing piece of theater, and a hell of a dance party

April 24th- This Island Ukulele!  - The third edition of our "Ukulele Island" series.  Each iteration of this event has been deeply heartwarming, and I expect great things from the third outing.

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career? 
 A cabaret Duo had come to town for one performance.  Each of the duo had achieved some local notoriety on the west coast; one as a lounge singer, one as a Trick-horse riding opera singer (yes).  They were advanced in age, and deeply excited for their east coast cabaret debut.
They had put, probably, hundreds of hours of effort into their show, which included myriad costume changes (in my tech booth), props, and carefully-timed gimmicks.  The show was booked at one of our famous cabaret houses, and they expected a packed room on the merit of the establishment's reputation.
But they didn't really invite anybody.  When showtime came, their camera operator and I were the only audience members.  You've never seen such long faces. They decided to perform the show, if just for the camera, since so much money and effort had been spent in preparation.  So they started the show with 5 minutes of forced enthusiasm, and a miracle happened. In walks the greatest person ever in Cabaret, Julie Wilson.  Julie, from time to time, would peruse the flyers and drop in on shows that made her curious.
Julie Wilson
She may be the only one ever to do that!
But these two knew Julie by reputation, and couldn't be more thrilled to put on a command performance for the queen of cabaret.
Throughout the show, Julie repaid them by hollering heartfelt praise at the stage, as only she could.   Everyone went home happy, and it was a great night.

What are you currently working on? How did this project come about? What is it that you like most about doing what you are currently doing?   
My most important project at the moment is creating a safe-space for Cabaret artists at the Boston Comedy Club's adjunct stage, a room we call "53 Above".  I'm looking to book shows that will help us achieve our goal- a dependable schedule of heartfelt and innovative Cabaret Shows, Weekdays at 7pm.  Our goals are to create an Artist-friendly room and to catch the attention of members of the public that would do well to see a cabaret show.
I am thrilled with the prospect of a truly artist-friendly Cabaret venue existing, and the club's owner, Al Martin, has been fantastic in helping to achieve the goal.  May I link a video describing this?
Additionally, I am busy preparing electronic musical tracks for captivating singers to perform on March 28th!  I am also working on a script for a choose-your-own-adventure movie, that we will produce independently, as we do.

Why don't cabaret shows attract more of the public?
Because they don't know what they are, they don't know they exist, and no one is telling them.  The stand up comedy guys have people posted at the tourist spots pushing the public into rooms about the same size as ours.
Why doesn't cabaret have those guys?  More people should be going to shows, and more artists should be doing shows.  Its tremendous fun and terrific theater, and the world needs more of it.

What is your favorite “escape” in NYC? 
Duet 53- rent-by-the-hour karaoke.  Try an hour there, alone or with good people.  A cool room all to yourselves with a couch and some music is a rare treat in this town!  Just don't do it for too long at one time!   More than an hour or two can bring on the nauseous feeling of karaoke regret.

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:

My friends and I came to Richard Skipper's Celebration of Carol Channing 1/31/18, and it was so much fun. I loved how he mixed interview with song. The love in the room was palpable, and his never-ending smile showed how much of his heart went into this show. I would recommend Richard's show to anyone who wants to feel better, open their heart to song and be lifted by the sheer joy of music. He is one of a kind, and his gift inspires us all. Thank you, Richard Skipper.
Michele Phillips, Piermont

I was fortunate enough to be a part of Richard's wonderful series on December 3rd at the Laurie Beechman. The spirit of the holidays was crystallized on the stage by many great performances, but being in the presence of Kathryn Crosby
was a special treat, especially when she and Richard sang "White Christmas" together.
Richard knows how to bring back the warm feeling of tradition while still being firmly rooted in the present, where the joy of the experience rests.
Bobby Belfry, Nyack, New York

If I believed in magic, I would say that the transformation of the Laurie Beechman Theater to a combination of Hollywood sound stage,
Interviewing 2018 MAC Nominee Ann Kittredge
Broadway musical, and Golden Age TV variety show was the result of supernatural powers. RICHARD SKIPPER CELEBRATES, expertly produced by Russ Woolley, and starring Richard Skipper is a marvelously entertaining safe haven for audiences, performers, and musicians to express themselves in an atmosphere of community and love. Richard is a true show business master who makes everyone in the room feel important. That’s because he truly believes it, but more than that, he lives it every day. Do NOT miss an opportunity to experience the unique joy of any RICHARD SKIPPER CELEBRATES  show!
Larry Kerchner Wilmington, DE
Richard Skipper Celebrates Hello, Dolly! (January 16th, 2017): with Harvey Evans, Lee Roy Reams, and Rita McKenzie

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!
Check out our PROMO VIDEO

If you've been to a Richard Skipper Celebrates, and you haven't done so already, please add your thoughts in Richard's Guest Book at
You Never Know Who you Might See There and What Might Happen!
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 ,

Happy Birthday, Donna Murphy!
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