You’ve likely heard the song “Cabaret”—penned for the smash Broadway hit by John Kander and Fred Ebb in 1966. Directed by Bob Fosse and starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey, …
You’ve likely heard the song “Cabaret”—penned for the smash Broadway hit by John Kander and Fred Ebb in 1966. Directed by Bob Fosse and starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey, “Cabaret” made its way to the big screen in 1972, reaching a world-wide audience, garnering eight Academy awards and making Minnelli a bonafide star.
What good is sitting
Alone in your room?
Come hear the music play
Life is a cabaret, old chum
Come to the cabaret
I’m a big fan of cabaret singers and the art form in general. Having seen three amazing performers in the last few weeks, I realized that I had no clue where the genre originated, or what the word itself actually meant. Naturally, I hit the internet running and learned quite a bit.
I discovered a website called “Musicals 101” (dot com). It had this to say: “In France, the word ‘cabaret’ initially referred to any business serving liquor. However, the history of cabaret culture began in 1881 with the opening of ‘Le Chat Noir’ in the Montmartre district of Paris. It was an informal saloon where poets, artists and composers could share ideas and compositions.
Performers got to test new material, audiences enjoyed a stimulating evening for the price of a few drinks, and owners could count on a steady flow of regular customers—a win-win-win proposition.”
Additional info from Wikipedia added this for good measure: “The performance setting might be a pub, a casino, a restaurant or a nightclub.”
Fortunately, we have venues in the Upper Delaware River region that match the criteria. The Bradstan Cabaret series is alive and well at the Eldred Preserve in Sullivan County, NY—and across the river, the Honesdale Performing Arts Center has begun presenting cabaret acts as well.
And then there’s the tavern at the Forestburgh Playhouse (FBP). Since it’s practically in my own back yard, I’ve made my way there a few times recently, and as with the other venues, it attracts big names.
“At the Tavern, we believe that ‘Life is a Cabaret’,” the FBP website declares, “and cannot wait for you to experience one or more of our legendary dinner cabarets. Sip refreshing craft cocktails, enjoy a sumptuous meal and then the lights dim and the cabaret begins featuring supremely talented singers performing hit songs featuring a variety of styles.”
Come taste the wine
Come hear the band
Come blow your horn
Right this way your table’s waiting
And I have, beginning with the incomparable Beth Leavel.
Last seen on Broadway as Dee Dee Allen in “The Prom,” Leavel has also received Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and LA Drama Critics Awards for her performance as the title character in “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
“Beth has dazzled and delighted sold-out audiences with her cabaret act” the Google informs me.
Of course I made notes during her sold-out show. “This performer has it all—including an incredible command of the stage. Just. Plain. Wow,” was the hurriedly scribbled note on my pad.
Beth’s performance “Under the Stars” at FBP was nothing short of amazing. With 14 Broadway shows under her belt, it’s clear why the Tony award-winning actress is showered with praise wherever she appears.
After Leavel’s show, I was anxious to see what else was in store at the tavern this season, so I went back to the Forestburgh Playhouse website (www.fbplayhouse.org) for more.
“Join Broadway star and Forestburgh favorite Nicholas Rodriguez for a night of musical celebration under the stars, performing a wide range of styles from Stephen Sondheim to Stevie Wonder and more!”
No stranger to accolades himself, Nick has had an extensive career on Broadway (“Tarzan”), film (“Sex and the City 2”) and the concert stage. He recently toured the U.S. in “The Sound of Music,” and just finished a sold-out run in the 2022 Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s acclaimed “Company,” which stars Patti LuPone.
Rodriguez is (IMHO) the epitome of cabaret. With a smooth patter, ridiculous likeability and a set of pipes that raise the roof, he is nothing short of amazing, but don’t take my word for it—he’ll be back.
“One more time, for good measure” I thought, as I headed for the tavern once again a few days ago, when I heard that Christina Stroup was slated to appear in her new cabaret show, “The Diva in Me.”
“Christina releases her inner Diva” I read online, “and will treat audiences to iconic hits from ‘Cabaret,’ ‘Gypsy,’ and ‘Funny Girl.’”
Aside from those memorable shows, Stroup strutted her stuff, exercising her formidable acting chops while reprising her fantastical performances on the Forestburgh stage as Ursula the Sea Witch in “The Little Mermaid” and as Donna in “Mamma Mia!”
She, too, will be back—playing Alice in the FBP production of “The Addams Family” (August 1-13), so make your reservations now, while you still can.
Meanwhile, check out the Bradstan Cabaret Series (what a lineup!) at www.theeldredpreserve.com and see what Honesdale has up its sleeve at www.honesdalepac.com. With luck, I’ll see you there!
Start by admitting
From cradle to tomb
It isn’t that long a stay
Life is a cabaret, old chum
It’s only a cabaret, old chum
And I love a cabaret...
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