There’s the saying” too much of a good thing can be … wonderful.” But often in performance, I think constantly repeating a “good thing” too much can be a trying experience for an audience. And I think of it as being like caramel corn.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a box of freshly-made caramel corn at a carnival or a circus. But when you put that first bite in your mouth it is heavenly and ambrosial. But the law of diminishing returns takes effect rapidly, and by the end of a box, I’ve sworn off caramel corn for life.
And as performers, it can be easy to become that caramel corn.
I remember a performer I saw who did a 5 song set. And the first number blew me away with all the ideas, content, and talent that was packed into it. And the second number, using much the same skill set, was also impressive. But by the fifth number, having been hammered with the same things from the performer I was really, really ready to leave.
Part of the problem as cabaret performers is that we tend to develop material one song at a time. So it is a natural thing for us to want to make each number the best we can, using everything we know. However, that poses the danger of giving much of our repertoire a feeling of sameness when we perform a bunch of it together. (It’s my first-hand experience. At the first pass, I structure nearly every song as spoken intro, rubato opening, tempo chorus, big finish)
But I think it’s more effective when a performer judiciously doles out different talents over the course of an evening. So they become like jewels strung on a necklace rather than handfuls of rocks constantly thrown at the audience.