Help is on the Way Today Benefit at the Metropolitan Room

July 31, 2009

Saturday night, I got to see an amazing concert at the Metropolitan Room, a benefit for Help is on the Way, a group that assists youth with AIDS.  The concert was organized by Lina Koutrakos and Lennie Watts as part of their Summer in the City cabaret workshop.

The theme of the concert was “Broadway Our Way,” with artists interpreting songs from the Great White Way.  Highlights included Koutrakos’s interpretation of Shall We Dance as a woman debating whetehr a brief sexual encounter was worth her while, Terese Genesco rocking the room with A Lotta Living to Do, K.T. Sullivan’s addled reading of Colored Lights, and Karen Mason poignant pairing of Now I Have Everything and Married.  Moreover, Mary Foster Conklin got me to not hate Something Good and Jenna Esposito found a great audience involvement moment in Down With Love, getting the crowd to shout the “take it away” repeats.

Here’s the line-up — truly a great cabaret sampler:

  • Mary Foster Conklin
    • The Gentleman is a Dope
    • Something Good
  • Jenna Esposito
    • Old Devil Moon
    • Down With Love
  • David Gurland
    • Stay With me / Wait
  • David Gurland & Julie Rayburn
    • Bill / Happiness is Just a Thing Called Joe
  • Teresa Genesco
    • A Lotta Living to Do
    • Somebody Loves Me
  • Sidney Meyer
    • I’m a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Man
  • Lina Koutrakos
    • Shall We Dance
  • Lennie Watts
    • Tomorrow
  • Karen Mason
    • Almost Like Being In Love
    • Now I Have Everything /Married
  • K.T. Sullivan
    • My Husband’s First Wife
    • Just Once / Colored Lights

A DC Recommendation from Alex Rybeck

July 31, 2009


Barbara Pappendorp — Porter at the Fringe

July 28, 2009
Late Night Cabaret
(Cole Porter Songs for a Summer’s Eve) 
with Barbara Papendorp
and Amy Conley
Fri. July 31 at 10:00 PM
Sat., Aug. 1 at 10:00 PM 
Location: Flashpoint, 916 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
(just steps from Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro)
Tickets: $12 – email, call 478-414-1921,
or buy at the door – (Senior and Student Discount Available)

Cole Porter with Bradford Newquist

July 28, 2009

Brad NewquistBradford Newquist’s CD, It’s All Right With Me is a terrific collection of songs by Cole Porter.

Newquist’s collection of Porter songs is beautifully thought out and gorgeously executed. He gives sensitive, intelligent readings of Porter’s lyrics and has the vocal chops to go from ballad to hot swing with the greatest of ease.  And the arrangements featuring Patrick Holland on piano, Christopher Ray on bass, and Christopher Crisanti on drums and percussion are the sort that would make any singer envious.

Newquist conveys many moods of Porter, from the playful (It’s All Right With me), to the tender (Do I Love You), and uber-charming (Don’t Fence Me In).  The CD is particularly well-engineered for a cabaret release and deserves to be the background for umpteen cocktail parties.

That said, for me it misses phenomenal-ness by being a bit by-the-numbers.  The only obscure song out of the fifteen tracks is Nobody’s Chasing Me.  While the performances and arrangements are wonderful and terrific to listen to, none break new ground or provide stunning new insights into the material.  And while Newquist is a great performer with a great instrument, after spending an hour listening to his CD, I didn’t feel I knew anything about him except that he’s someone with great musical taste, talent, and intelligence. 

But don’t get me wrong, if you’re at all a Porter fan, or an American songbook fan, this is certainly a CD to investigate.

Chicago Cabaret Workshop

July 25, 2009

For those of you who love cabaret tourism the way I do…

The 2009 Chicago Cabaret Intensive 

 August 21, 22, & 23

Alice Kinsella    

Lina Koutrakos and Rick Jensen

at Davenports 

Award winning New York cabaret artists Koutrakos and Jensen return to Chicago to facilitate the third consecutive 3 day Cabaret Intensive focusing on the art of song performance.

“I highly recommend working with these two
in any capacity when it is possible …”
– KT McCammond (Chicago)


Between them, the teaching team of Koutrakos and Jensen are the recipients of 9 MAC Awards, honoring excellence in New York cabaret, in addition to numerous other awards. They have been teaching ongoing advanced performance workshops in Manhattan for over a decade and have guided countless performers through the creation of solo cabaret shows. Both have served on the faculty of the Cabaret Conference at Yale University, The Eugene O’Neill Cabaret Symposium, The St. Louis Cabaret Conference and together have taught three day performance intensives in Chicago, Boston, Santa Fe, Washington, DC. and Las Vegas.  Jensen is one of New York’s most sought after musical director/arrangers and Koutrakos added two more MAC awards to her credit in 2007 – BEST MAJOR FEMALE ARTIST and BEST DIRECTOR.

 “..a marvelous ability to guide singers “
 – Lori Davis (Houston)


The core of the 3 days will focus on performance coaching, led by Koutrakos as director/performance coach and Jensen as music director/coach.  Singers will prepare at least 5 songs that are memorized and ready to work. Participants receive individualized peformance feedback in the following areas:  connection to material, physical choices, song selection, interpretation, arrangements, audience connection and internal/external focus of song.  Other topics covered in the three days include constructing a show, working with your musical director, the importance of the arrangement and developing patter.

“… great insight, energy and, above all,

love for the art of cabaret.”

– Jerome Elliott (Palm Springs)


The weekend culminates on Sunday evening, August 23rd at 7 p.m.  with a PARTICIPANT SHOWCASE. There will also be a Faculty Performance on Saturday evening August 22nd at 8 p.m. featuring Koutrakos, Jensen and Schall. Both evenings are open to the public. Performance location is Davenports Piano Bar and Cabaret,  1383 N Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60642 (773) 278-1830.
Cost for the workshop is $625, includes one ticket to Saturday August 23rd performance. Hours are approximately 9-5 p.m. on Fri & Sat, and 10-4 p.m. on Sunday. Space is limited. For further information or to register, please contact Tim Schall at 314-721-4634 or email
To inquire about separate private one-on-one sessions contact Tim Schall.  

A Performance Connection Workshop

Stephen Holden on Bill Charlap & Friends

July 23, 2009

The NYTimes on Charlap & Co’s Sondheim & Styne concert at the 92nd Street Y: ”

Mr. Charlap, a keyboard wizard who continually surprises, went on to inflect the song’s Broadway chords with his own jazz modulations and deliver an exquisite piano solo free of clichés.  This demonstration was one of several pertinent music lessons inserted into “Sondheim & Styne” on the second night of the Y’s Jazz in July Summer Festival, which runs through next Thursday. The concert put the show tunes of Mr. Styne and Stephen Sondheim through the jazz wringer and found a natural compatibility between the genres.”

May I Suggest Joan Curto’s CD?

July 22, 2009


Note:  I bought a bunch of CDs of Chicago cabaret performers while I was there that  I’ll be reviewing  as I listen to them.

I really enjoyed Joan Curto’s CD, May I Suggest.  It features, thoughtful, well-executed readings of a variety of interesting material.  (And no surprise, these Chicagoans discovered Windy City native Susan Werner before the rest of us did.)  Her vocals are impeccable and the arrangements are well suited for her particular gifts.


  • Comes Love
  • Make Me a Kite
  • How Deep Is the Ocean
  • Happy As the Day Is Long
  • May I Suggest
  • If I Were a Bell
  • And I Love You So
  • Mister Monotony
  • Much At All
  • Acapulco
  • It Never Entered My Mind
  • Shakin the Blues Away
  • Good Night, New York

New City in a Swamp Web Site

July 22, 2009

Just got to tour the new Web site for City in a Swamp. 

The site has links to songs (both YouTube clips and audio) from the three revues that the group has done.  The songs by Nick Zill and Howard Bennett are a great source for people looking for special material — especially of the political sort.  The clip above is the lovely Nkemjika Ofodile dealing with alternative medicine.

Matt Howe’s Fabulous DC Cabaret Calendar

July 20, 2009

OK, when I started this blog, I’ll admit I had ambitions of keeping an up-to-date calendar of local events.  If anyone clicks the “Calendar” link at the right, they’ll see how long ago I gave up.

So thank you to the fabulous Matt Howe for starting his own “DC Area Cabaret Performances” calendar!!!!!!  I know we’ll all find it a great resource!

Photos from A Date with Judy

July 18, 2009

Judy Simmons Performs-5760 by DCMatt.It was also irksome to miss Judy Simmons’s new show, A Date With Judy, because I was on the road. 

Ron said the evening was terrific.  And Matt Howe forwarded a link to some spectacular pix of the performer and friends attending.  (Thanks, Matt!)