DC Cabaret Network Board Showcase

February 29, 2008

The Board of the DC Cabaret Network is performing a showcase Sunday night to celebrate the start of “Cabaret Month.”  It will include performances by Judy Simmons, Cindy Hutchins, George Fulginiti-Shakar, Emily Everson, Chris Cochran, Terri Allen, and Sally Martin.

Sunday, 2 March, 7:00pm

Arts Club of Washington (2017 I Street, NW, Washington DC)

Reservations are highly recommended and should be sent to:  (please include your name, phone number and address) info@dccabaretnetwork.org

$10 for non-members and $5 for members (cash only)

DC Tango Festival Activities

February 29, 2008
Tango at the Shore – Saturday, March 8, 2008   at 6 p.m.  — Avalon Theatre
Enjoy a tango show and dinner at the historic Avalon Theatre, an 85-year old art deco theater in Easton, Maryland, one of the ten best small arts towns in the U.S. Features musicians and dancers from Argentina- Rodolfo Zanetti and Juan Pablo Jofre Romarion on bandoneons, Claudia Gargiulo, singer, and Alicia Orlando and Claudio Barneix,  tango dancers; from Washington, DC – Amy Beth Horman on violin.  This concert benefits the Eastern Shore Chamber Music Festival.  For tickets, call 410-819-0380.

Tango in the afternoon – Tuesday, March 12, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. — O’Connor Auditorium, Trinity University

Concert lecture, a little bit of tango history and lots of music, with the duo Zanetti-Jofre Romarion.  Free and open to the public. Trinity University, 125 Michigan Ave, NE, Washington , D.C  

 Tango at the Embassy  – Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 8 p.m. — Embassy of Argentina

First time in Washington , DC !  Two master bandoneon players from Argentina the duo Zanetti & Jofre Romarion perform Astor Piazzolla’s Five Tango Sensations and other authentic tango favorites, with the talented Amy Beth Horman on violin, and the Pan American String Quartet.  Embassy of Argentina 1600 New Hampshire Ave., NW Washington DC. Limited seating capacity.  General admission – $30. Payable at the door, or for advance purchase, call 240-242-8032 or 202-884-9008.  

Tango at the University – Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 8 p.m. — Notre dame Chapel, Trinity University

Join PASO at the beautiful Notre Dame Chapel of Trinity University.  Zanetti and Jofre Romarion, bandoneons, and tango singer, Claudia Gargiulo together with the Pan American Symphony, bring you the drama and passion of both traditional tango songs and the modern tango interpretations of Astor Piazzolla.  Trinity University, 125 Michigan Ave, NE, Washington , D.C. General Admission- $30.  Payable at the door, or for advance purchase, call 240-242-8032 or 202-884-9008. Visa and MasterCard accepted.  Limited seating.

Tango Night at the Movies – Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. — Embassy of Argentina

Tango in Broadway (El tango en Broadway) with Carlos Gardel,1934, Argentina, 83 min, by Louis Gasnier. Spanish with English Subtitles. Embassy of Argentina, Auditorium Heroes de Islas Malvinas. 1600 New Hampshire Ave., NW. Free and open to the public

Tango Dance Workshops – Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6 p.m. — Trinity University

Choose from 5 levels; each workshop lasts 1 hour. $25 per workshop. Special 2 hour Musicality workshop with Octavio Brunetti – $40

Milonga Brava – Friday, April 4, 2008 at 9 p.m. — Embassy of the Republic of Argentina

Celebrate a fun-filled week of tango with a spirited dance party  a Milonga!  Dance demonstration and Argentine wine!  Bring your dancing shoes! Admission at the door-$20. 1600 New Hampshire Ave., NW Washington DC

[El] Tango y [Ella] la Milonga – Saturday, April 5, 2008 at 8 p.m. — GW Lisner Auditorium

Join members of PASO and Latin Grammy winners Maestro Raul Jaurena (bandoneon) & Octavio Brunetti (piano), Marga Mitchell, singer, and dancers Carolina & Anton and Annatina & Hernan for a unique show in two parts:  [El] Tango y [ella] la Milonga  a depiction of the early days of tango; Modern Inspirations  the evolution of tango to the mastery of Astor Piazzolla. General Admission, Reserved Seating – $36 Ticket Master and Phone Charge 301-808-6900. or in person at the Lisner Box Office 202-994-6800 ( 730 21st St. NW , Washington , DC , open Tues.-Fri. 11a.m.-5 p.m.) 

Pasion por Tango – Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 8 p.m. — GW Lisner Auditorium

Joining PASO, direct from Argentina , The Bruno Cavallaro Quartet entertain brings you an evening of delightful music, with singer Claudia Gargiulo, and tango dancers. General Admission, Reserved Seating – $36; Ticket Master and Phone Charge 301-808-6900, or in person at the Lisner Box Office 202-994-6800 ( 730 21st St. NW , Washington , DC , open Tues.-Fri. 11a.m.-5 p.m.). 

Ciudadana Locura – City Madness The Cavallaro Quartet – Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 8 p.m. — Mexican Cultural Institute

Direct from Argentina the Cavallaro Quartet, will be presenting their new CD “CIUDADANA LOCURA” to the Washington audience. Winners of the “2007 Tango Revelation Award”  The Cavallaro Quartet brings you the drama and passion of both traditional tango and the modern tango interpretations of Astor Piazzolla and Bruno Cavallaro  Mexican Cultural Institute, 2829 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 20009. Tickets $30 general admission $25 for Institute members. For tickets call (240) 242-8032 or 202- 884-9008 

Milonga Mania – Friday, May 16, 2008 at 8 p.m. — Embassy of the Republic of Argentina

The Cavallaro Quartet will perform authentic tangos for your dancing pleasure Dance demonstration and Argentine wine!  Bring your dancing shoes!  Admission at the door-$25 1600 New Hampshire Ave., NW Washington DC

Pan American Symphony Orchestra, Discovering Music of the Americas since 1991

We thank you for your continued support of the Pan American Symphony Orchestra as we bring you Washington’s most unique classical repertoire. Please check our website http://www.panamsymphony.org/ for the latest concert information and details about the orchestra.


Stephen Holden on Freda Payne

February 28, 2008

The New York Times weighs in on Paynes’s show at Feinstein’s: “Even today not many jazz singers can deliver scat improvisations with the velocity and timbral control that Fitzgerald wielded while tossing off passages that suggested another language passing through her, the jazz equivalent of speaking in tongues. Ms. Payne can not only do it, but the voice she adopts for the task is strongly reminiscent of Fitzgerald’s, especially at the upper end.”

Reminder: Mandy Patinkin at Strathmore

February 28, 2008

Mandy Patinkin appears at Strathmore on Saturday Night, 1 March at 8:00pm.  Paul Ford music directs.

2008 Helen Hayes Awards Nominations

February 28, 2008

OK, awards are a looney process.  And the great news is that the Helen Hayes awards evaluated 189 professional productions with the work of actors in more than 2,000 roles in the Washington DC area in 2007.  And that does not include the bounty of work done by the many fine community theater groups as well as small theater groups that do not achieve  the the 16 performance minimum set by the Helen Hayes Awards.  So we really do live in a region of theatrical riches. 

And without having seen all 189 plays, it’s hard to have too strong an opinion about the nominations just announced

I’m thrilled that the amazing performances, technical elements, direction, and overall production of Souvenir at Studio were recognized, and very happy that Carolee Carmello’s excellent turn as Aimee Semple McPherson got a nod.  And at least the leads of The Musical of Musical, The Musical were nominated.

I was sorry that Nancy Robinette didn’t also get a nomination for her amazing performance in Well, and I’m mystified the The Musical of Musicals, The Musical didn’t get nominations for its supporting players, as an ensemble, costumes, or directing.

Tina Fabrique is Ella FitzgeraldAnd the bone I’ve picked before.  While I fully believe that Tina Fabrique’s performance in ELLA fully earned a nomination, I do not understand why it came in the “resident” category.  With a star, director, sets, costume, and wig that had a life before Arena Stage in previous productions in California, Ohio, Florida, and Connecticut (and at least a subsequent production in St. Louis), it totally escapes me how this production fits the Helen Hayes Awards rule as stated: “In general, if the original intention, as of opening night, is that the production is developed, produced, and contracted for Washington D.C. and is only to be produced in the Washington area, it is then considered a resident production.    All other productions shall be considered non-resident.” 

When I contacted Chad Bauman, Director of Marketing and Communications at Arena Stage, about the nomination he responded, “…when I last wrote, I said that Arena Stage had filed ELLA as a non-resident musical with the Helen Hayes Awards.  As we moved through the technical process of the show, significant elements of the production were updated, changed and adapted for this incarnation.  As such, the artistic staff of Arena Stage felt strongly that it had become an Arena resident production, therefore the production’s designation was changed from non-resident to resident.  I was unaware of the change in designation when I wrote you previously. 

“You should also know that the incorporated updates have since stayed with the production as it traveled to the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.”

(Pictured, right — a publicity photo used for the September Florida Stage stand of Ella)

Wendy Lane Bailey / Laurel Masse Masterclass Re-Scheduled

February 28, 2008

Words & Music: A Comprehensive Performance Class for Singers by Wendy Lane Bailey and Laurel , has been rescheduled forMasse Saturday March 15th. We have only a few slots left! To sign up contact Park Road Management at parkroadmanagement@verizon.net , (646)831-0359.

A great opportunity for those who couldn’t make the previously scheduled session!

Report: Michael Vitaly Sazonov at CHAW

February 27, 2008


I FINALLY made it to see Michael Vitaly Sazonov’s show, My Well Schooled Heart: The Education of a Young, Modern Day Romantic, when it played CHAW Monday night.

Let me say, right off the bat, that Sazonov is a terrific young performer.  He combines movie star looks with a brooding intensity tempered by an occasional mischievous grin.  He has a terrific vocal attack when singing, an obvious commitment to his material, and makes some fascinating melodic choices.  And Alex Tang as music director certainly remains on his game, providing cinematic support for a very intricate piece.

Unlike a cabaret act where the singer has chosen a roster of songs that are occasionally connected/interrupted by patter, Sazonov has created an extended monologue with musical interludes.  Sazonov discourses on his experiences with love and romance, emotional game-playing, and healing with a fervent intensity.  And he lapses into a terrific collection of songs.  But the piece feels like a shotgun marriage of Spalding Gray and Michael Buble.  On the other hand, with its verbal twists and turns, its “sampling” of material, and the feeling of multiple jump cuts, we may be seeing the birth of GenZ Cabaret. 

I really respect and really loved the commitment that Sazonov brings to the material, and his passion and desire to communicate.  But I never felt that he was having a conversation with me as an audience member.  And the sheer barrage of words occasionally felt like an assault, which sadly often didn’t allow a lot of time to process the very meaty text he scripted.  And the protean energy he expended in his performance occasionally exhausted me.  And made me feel old.

Which brings us to the age issue.  It’s really hard for someone in the usual cabaret audience demographic to hear someone of Sazonov’s youth say, “I remember my first love” without thinking “You should, it was only last week.”  No matter how well-contexted, Blame It On My Youth should at least be saved for someone’s  4th decade.  But like Spring Awakening, the occasional callowness of his script is part of the charm of hearing the genuine, affecting discoveries that someone of his age is making.

And a huge plus on the age factor — at least half of his audience was made up of people under 30.  So if anyone is drawing that demographic to hear this material, I will keep celebrating and encouraging his work.

I look forward to seeing Sazonov grow and his work mature.  And catching him early, you’ll all be able to say, “I remember when…”

Here’s the list of what he sang:

  • If I Ever Say I’m Over You
  • So in Love
  • I Fall in Love Too Easily
  • Blame It On My Youth
  • TwentySomething
  • It’s All Right With Me
  • Sway
  • What Is It About Her?
  • Lonely House
  • Being Alive
  • Better Than I
  • You’ve Got Something
  • Now and Forever
  • Day By Day
  • Grateful
  • Moon River

Report: Beverly shows ’em how it’s done at Indigo

February 25, 2008

I had the great pleasure of seeing Beverly Cosham’s show at Indigo on Saturday night with the terrific Alex Tang music directing.

Here’s my review for Cabaret Scenes.

Here’s what she sang: 

  • You Will Be My Music
  • Jessie
  • Time Heals Everything
  • He Touched Me
  • Bill
  • Rhode Island Is Famous for You
  • Something New in My Life
  • The Way He Makes Me Feel
  • I’ve Got You Under My Skin
  • I Just Fall In Love Again
  • My Favorite Year
  • You and I
  • Ev’rytime We Say Goodbye

Perry-Mansfield Memories — Carla Gordon

February 25, 2008

Carla Goes to Summer Camp

When it comes to the art of cabaret, I can’t get enough of it. I enjoy wearing multiple cabaret hats: singer, songwriter, lyricist, and reviewer. I also feel as if I can never learn enough about it. Thus, I was pleased to have passed the audition to attend the Professional Cabaret Workshop offered at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. After speaking several times with the camp’s director, June Lindenmayer, who offered to transport me and my fellow attendees from nearby Hayden Airport, I sensed how accommodating the Perry-Mansfield community can be.

The half hour drive from Hayden to Perry-Mansfield is a joy of green mountains and blue skies. Camp residents include horses and (we will discover) a mama bear with two frisky cubs. Mark Fifer, a New York based musical director, who managed the myriad details of the Professional Cabaret Workshop, dropped each of us at our respective cabins. (Due to an old ankle problem, I had trouble walking on the mountainside; Mark showed up in a golf cart each morning to get me down the hill. It showed the spirit of this program; how it is truly committed to everyone’s success. I’m so grateful I’d like to name a street after Mark.)

Another delightful surprise at Perry-Mansfield is the food. The thought of “camp food” conjures images of stuff on a shingle. Happily, Chef Josh Webster’s London broil with portobella sauce had no trace of shingle whatsoever. The brioche French toast stuffed with cream cheese and fresh berries was another standout.

Participants and faculty arrived throughout the day on Monday. Following dinner, the evening’s agenda was that each participant briefly introduce him/herself and sing one song.

I was surprised and delighted by how different each participant was, as well as by the participants’ collective talents. It was a pleasure to reunite with my friend Susan Winter whom I met last year at Cabaret Conference at Yale. Winter is a long-time band singer, with luscious smooth delivery. Yet she has a way with a lyric and in 2006, when she sang Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years,” it stayed with me for a long time. Pam Peterson, my award winning colleague from Chicago’s busy cabaret community has a huge vocal range and brings powerful physicality to music. Her opening demonstration was an original comedy tune about middle age. (If I am nice to her, maybe she’ll let me mooch it one day.) I found Kelly Houston quite remarkable. If you said that one singer could embody the essence of Billy Eckstine one moment then Paul Robeson the next, I would be a skeptic. Nevertheless, Houston manages it with honest, effective phrasing to boot. Colorado resident, Eve Ilsen who is married to a noted Judaic scholar has a rich alto and connects beautifully with the story telling aspect of cabaret.

Amy Alvarez has a lilting voice and crystal diction. This mom-to-be also has a lovely face and sings with depth and heart. Everyone asks her about New Orleans. Hillary Hogan is another promising cabaret artist. Trained in opera and dance, Hogan looks like a Modgliani painting and warbles like a lark. Kate Watson is a fascinating cabaret personality; she looks and talks like a grown up southern belle, but brings a sly wit. Skie Ocasio has movie star looks and a gorgeous tenor voice. Although young, he has a compelling stage presence. My cabin mate is Jennifer Blades from the Baltimore area. She is classically trained vocally and her energy is lovely. This mother of two has great curves and a glorious mane of red hair. Then there’s Diana Vytell, a psychotherapist from Connecticut. When she asks Alfie what it’s all about, she really wants to know. Vytell is elegant. Richard Malavet has star quality. This handsome baritone sings in English and Spanish. He is a fine singer, yet with an engaging humility. His fans are bound to swoon. California based Nicole Dillenberg (being from Chicago, I mispronounced it Dillinger) is planning show featuring music associated with World War I. She states that her mission is to be funny in cabaret. She has a gentle way and I can’t wait to discuss vintage music with my new pal.

Before leaving Chicago, I sought advice from Beckie Menzie, a former Perry-Mansfield attendee (and musical director for my upcoming Davenport’s show, The Brice Is Right – A Salute to Fanny Brice). Beckie advised that my “demonstration” be something that “really shows who you are.” I choose my original, inspirational ballad, “The Voice in Your Heart.” I had worked on the lyric for a long time and changed some words after the World Trade Center events. I introduced it by saying how it takes courage to stand up and sing before a group of colleague performers, but that we sing because the voice in our hearts tells us that we must. I finish the song and hear the word “Brava” waft across the pavilion: it’s Andrea Marcovicci complementing my song. (She asked for a chart …. Be still my heart.)

The Professional Cabaret Workshop faculty is even more remarkable. Participants rotate among three distinct faculty teams, each promulgating a unique cabaret philosophy. The team of Andrea Marcovicci and her long time musical director Shelly Markham focuses on lyric text. “If a lyric is well written,” says Marcovicci, “the cabaret singer’s job is to interpret the text.” Those words reflect my personal philosophy of cabaret as well. I sang Frank Loesser’s “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You” for this class and still revel in team Marcovicci and Markham’s positive comments after.

Team Karen Mason and (musical director) Christopher Denny place a greater emphasis on subtext. They worked with each singer to explore the internal layers of text and the “character” in the song. Team Mason and Denny’s approach is to go deep. Denny also reminded participants of the importance of full vocal charts, personalized arrangements and the ability to transpose.

I looked forward to working again with Barry Kleinbort after taking his class in Chicago. With help from musical director, Norma Curley, I took advantage of Kleinbort’s reputation as an expert on special material. I tried my parody of “Purple People Eater,” (original version by Sheb Wooley) in which the extra terrestrial wants to sing cabaret. It got good laughs, but Kleinbort suggested that the outro verse would close better by bringing the narrator back into the story along with the People Eater’s impact on the singer. Kleinbort’s advice is spot on. Kleinbort and Curley also provided me with sage advice on a medley of “What’ll I Do” (by Irving Berlin) and “Where Do You Start” (music by Michel Le Grand and lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman). “Be careful with songs that can be construed as self-pity,” Kleinbort advises. In an instant, Norma Curley suggested a cut of a few bars that gave the medley a more optimistic feel.

Norma Curley led daily morning vocal warmups in a way that was particularly suited to cabaret. Classical vocal music emphasizes vowels, while lyric-driven cabaret requires precise consonants. Curley’s warmups were very effective. Many of us took them home like prized recipies.

Faculty members are good diagnosticians and provide each singer with constructive recommendations. The opera trained singers face the unique challenge of relying on lyric rather than voice. The musical theater crowd is challenged to find the intimacy of cabaret. Others are challenged to project. While there is no browbeating in classes, the quality bar is set high.

Evening seminars explored marketing and publicity, arrangements, and a host of topics with meaning to rising cabaret artists.

The participant program includes a cabaret concert that is open to the public. The faculty collectively structures the show, assigning each participant one particular tune. Usually, when I have the opportunity to sing only one song in a showcase, I prefer to sing something I wrote (to strut my songwriter chops, of course). However, I was happy to be asked to sing “I Don’t Want to Get Thin” by Jack Yellen and Milton Ager which was commissioned in 1929 by my muse, Sophie Tucker. It’s a funny number, and I was glad to fill one of the few comedy spots. Following my turn, it was great to introduce Nicole Dillenberg and link our mutual interest in vintage tunes. Dillenberg presented a pairing of “Keep the Home Fires Burning” (lyrics by Lena Ford and music by the prolific Ivor Novello) and an unusually wistful interpretation of “K-K-Katie” with which the audience was eager to sing along in order to “bring Jimmy home.”

The participant show had a lovely arc, beginning with Hillary Hogan singing “Take Me To The World” (by Stephen Sondheim from the musical Evening Primrose) and ending with Pam Peterson’s powerhouse rendition of “Defying Gravity”(from the musical Wicked with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz). Amy Alvarez’ rendition of “It’s Amazing the Things that Float” about optimism in the face of the loss of post-Katrina damage remains with me weeks later. Each vocalist’s presentation showed meaningful growth after a mere week of study. While the concert ended with a communal rendition of the Gershwins’ “Our Love Is Here to Stay,” none among us could face the prospect of the Rockies crumbling. But we knew our sense of fellowship was to last a “long, long while.”

The last day of the workshop is devoted to debriefing. The morning is a group session in which both participants and faculty reflect on the week and on the previous night’s concert. It is an emotional sharing of gratitude. I, for one, felt that the Professional Cabaret Workshop well honored my treasured art .

The afternoon session allows for short one-on-one one participant conferences with each faculty member. (That Mark Fifer put together the scheduling tells me he can handle the Invasion of Normandy.) . It was tough to say goodbye to Norma Curley for whom I felt a particular affection. It was a thrill to have fellow Chicagoan Shelly Markham gently and generously dissect a lyric idea I brought to him. The opportunity to examine songwriting craft with Markham was a privilege.

I could have spent the whole day with Andrea Marcovicci discussing the American Songbook, music research, vintage music, and the state of the art. Marcovicci recommended that I put together a program of vintage music from the 1920s and before, citing that it is an underserved area of American music in the cabaret vein. I plan to do just that.

One last pleasure happened on my walk back from debriefing when I saw two bear cubs scamper between some trees. Not the Chicago Cubs …. these are the real deal.

Most sessions in which all participants took part were held in a glass-walled pavilion with views of the mountains dressed in rich summer greenery. All found sweet music and fellowship there. Much of the time, a tiny hummingbird buzzed in the rafters. It called to my mind the old humming bird riddle. It was clear to me that why this humming bird was hanging out with us was, yes, he wanted to learn the words.

THE PERRY-MANSFIELD PERFORMING ARTS SCHOOL & CAMP can be reached at 40755 RCR 36 Steamboat Springs, CO – 970-879-7125 – http://www.perry-mansfield.org/ad_cab.html

Entire Article Copyright, 2007 by Carla Gordon

Ron-ing Around — Posts to SongSpeak

February 24, 2008

Should I be concerned that my partner is seeing other blogs?

Ron Squeri is February’s guest blogger for SongSpeak: The Blog of the DC Cabaret Network. 

Here are links to posts he’s done so far:

By the way, don’t forget that Ron’s CD Haunted Heart is now available through CD Baby