Cabaret performance is so intimate. You're practically nose to nose with the singer. There are no fuzzy barriers between you and who they are and what they deliver. The lights come up and it could be so easy to start judging...from the rhinestone to the Botox to the tattoos...the visual is the first line of acceptance. But once you're past the superficial critiques we've all been trained to throw out since film and TV lighting have given us a more illusionary view of performers, it's just what they sing and how they put across a song that counts. That's why cabaret is so great...to experience a myriad of ways to interpret music.
The great hold out in a town where so many cabaret joints have shut down, The Metropolitan Room preps for its fall season by offering tastings of what's to come. If you like a performer, you can come to their shows later in the month. At Wednesday night's show, produced by Joseph Macchia and Bernie Furshpan, the audience had quite a buffet to choose from.
Raven O has an alluring voice but would have benefitted from less personal material. He was singing a love song to his husband, a nice gesture, but one that didn't come off, because the song was lost in the over dramatic emotion.
Dorothy Bishop, of the big blonde genre, can really sing, though her first number with a puppet was too busy. She nailed it though when she sang duet as Barbra Streisand to a 'Skype video' of Judy Garland in heaven. Doing both parts, this sort of puppetry is both novel and hysterical, especially when Judy keeps falling off her stool, as the 'live' Barbra carries on as if nothing is wrong. She is a wonderful comedienne... her Dozen Diva Show should be terrific.
Broadway star Shelly Burch of Nine, shares her early audition tales including being too tale for everyone but Tommy Tune. She has a beautiful voice and sang a song by her husband Annie lyricist, Martin Charnin who will be directing her at the Metropolitan in "Incurably Romantic."
Gorgeous redhead Maxine Linehan who has played Nancy in Oliver will be performing her show 'Beautiful Songs' for the first time at this venue. She is an authentically charming actress, with a rich powerful voice and has chosen material that sticks in the unconscious.
Devin Bing, adorable and at 29 could has the energy of Harry Connick, Jr., a bit of the vocal quality of Justin Timberlake. He and his drummer really shook things up with their jazzed up standards. His Miles Davis trumpet, simply made with his mouth was freakily good, though I'd much rather hear him just sing and play that crazy piano.
T. Oliver Reid, sang a number of his show "Drop Me Off in Harlem'' and I can't wait to see the whole evening as he club hops with us to the music of Arlen, Ellington and more. 1934 uptown comes downtown and he is a great time travelling host.
The final singer for the evening Luba Mason is a force of nature. From the moment she hits the stage, you feel the pulse...hers and yours. Her debut was in The Will Roger's Follies and for the Metropolitan she brings a small band to back up her powerful chops. She goes deep and we want to dive with her.
I would not hesitate to spend an evening with any of these performers. It's upfront, personal and one of the best theatrical pleasures going.