Ben Brantley on Spiderman

June 15, 2011

I know that the review of Spiderman is off the mark of cabaret, but as a reviewer, I love the eternal quandary those of us who try to deal with ungodly messes so often face: “…  this singing comic book is no longer the ungodly, indecipherable mess it was in February. It’s just a bore….So is this ascent from jaw-dropping badness to mere mediocrity a step upward?”

Classic Holiday Cabaret CDs: Ann Hampton Callaway

December 16, 2007

When you want to swing the holidays, cabaret style, I can think of no better CD the This Christmas from Ann Hampton Callaway.

Not only does the album contain swinging standards filtered through Callaway’s thrilling vocal pyrotechnics, but it contains three terrific songs penned by Callaway herself.  (The wonderful song God Bless My Family is available through MusicNotes.) 

One warning — this CD was recently re-issued with new cover art.  So careful about re-purchasing.

  1. Jingle Bells
  2. The Christmas Song
  3. Silent Night / A Child Is Born
  4. Baby. It’s Cold Outside
  5. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  6. This Christmas
  7. Manhattan In December
  8. A Christmas Love Song
  9. Carol Of The Bells
  10. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  11. God Bless My Family
  12. White Christmas

Classic Holiday Cabaret CDs: Cabaret Noel

December 16, 2007


Cabaret Noel was the first BC/EFA holiday compilation CD and it remains a classic.  The 2 CD album features a mix of performers from the Broadway stage and from the cabaret circuit doing a wide variety of material.  IT’s amazing to think that this is the first place I heard songs like All Those Christmas Cliches, Surabaya Santa, and I’m Wishing You A Drag Queen Christmas.

Songs Include:
Christmas Eve in my Hometown- Scott Ellis & Susan Stroman
Deck the Hells- Robert Morse
Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!- Cheryl Bentyne
Fast Falls the Snow- Mary D’Arcy & Mark Jacoby
I Wonder as I Wander- Maureen McGovern
The Christmas Song/A Crazy Christmas List- Brian Stokes Mitchell
What Makes Santa Run?- Ervin Drake
It’s Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas- Scott Bakula
I’m Gonna Be An Angel- John Kander & Fred Ebb
Three Wishes for Christmas- Carolyn Mignini
One Family- Richard Kiley, Dierdre Kiley, Sheldon Harnick & Margery Harnick
For You- Michele Brourman
Mele Kalikimaka/Winter Wonderland- The Cast of Forever Plaid
I’ll Be Home for Christmas- Karen Ziemba
O Holy Night- Holly Near & Brian Lane Green
Once Upon a Christmas Time- Nikki Rene
Jingle Bells- BETTY
Surabaya Santa- Kristine Zbornick
All I Want for Christmas Is You- Amanda McBroom & George Ball
Star of Wonder- The Arlettes
O Little Town of Bethlehem- Melba Moore
Silent Night- DC Anderson, Claudia Anderson & Jim J. Bullock
Santa Took the Subway- Anthony Crivello
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer- David Staller
The Perfect Christmas Eve- Roslyn Kind
Merry Christmas, Darling- Davis Gaines
Do Your Christmas Lovin’ Early- Portia Nelson & William Roy
My Christmas Song for You- Andrea Marcovicci
Christmas in New York- Leslie Uggams
Christmas in Beverly Hills- Dale Gonyea
It’s Christmas & We’re Jewish- Karen Benjamin & Alan Chapman
Some Children See Him- Howard McGillin
What Child is this- Jeff Harnar
Dawn Carol- Wayne Moore & Brenda Silas-Moore
Christmas Feels Just Like love- Babbie Green
All Those Christmas Cliches- Lainie Kazan
A Tuna Story- Jason Williams
Don’t Let Gramma Cook Christmas Dinner- Roy Zimmerman
Remember/Toyland- KT Sullivan
Wishing You a Drag Queen Christmas- BD Wong
The Truth About Christmas- Alix Korey
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear- Karen Akers
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas- Tommy Tune
Christmas on Broadway- Karen Culliver & Betty Garrett

Classic Holiday Cabaret CDs: Barbara Cook

December 15, 2007

This CD is everything you’d want a Barbara Cook holiday CD to be.  Count Your Blessings contains classics filtered through Cook’s wisdom, delivered with her impeccable singing.  Best still, it was recorded while Wally Harper was still alive with his amazing arrangements.  It’s the perfect thing to play at Christmas dinner.

1. Count Your Blessings
2. Winter Wonderland
3. There Is No Christmas Like A Home Christmas
4. O Holy Night
5. The Christmas Song
6. I Wonder As I Wonder
7. He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands
8. Away In A Manger
9. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
10. Silent Night
11. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
12. White Christmas
13. Breath Of Heaven
14. May You Always
15. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christams

Classic Holiday Cabaret CDs: Andrea Marcovicci

December 7, 2007

My Christmas Song For You 

Andrea Marcovicci’s December stint at the Oak Room is a holiday tradition for many people.  So although she’s never done a Christmas show, a holiday CD from her — My Christmas Wish for You — makes perfect sense.

The tracks on My Christmas Wish for You are standards and a few obscurities filtered through Marcovicci’s specific cabaret sensibilities.  And Shelly Markham has arranged the selections with lush orchestrations for a large instrumental ensemble.  Marcovicci’s version of the big band classic Blue Champagne is my personal favorite, conjuring up images of a chic, sophisticated, slightly dishabille holiday interlude.

 1 White Christmas

2 The Christmas Waltz
3 It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
4 Silver Bells
5 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
6 I’ll Be Home For Christmas / You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To
7 The Christmas Song (chestnuts Roasting)
8 Blue Champagne
9 The Gift
10 Sleigh Ride
11 Winter Wonderland / Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
12 I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day
13 Chrismas Lullaby / All Through the Night
14 Silent Night
15 My Christmas Song For You

Classic Holiday Cabaret CDs: Nancy LaMott

December 6, 2007

Nancy LaMott’s Just in Time for Christmas remains a great listen.  It combines a variety of romantic, spiritual, and comic approaches to the holiday season.  I still thrill at her performance of Chris Marlowe’s arrangement of I Saw Three Ships with Bring a Torch, Janette Isabella.  And of course there’s the trademark David Friedman Just in Time for Christmas.  And one is reminded that she was David Zippel’s demo singer with a special holiday lyric for Stay with Me from City of Angels.

1. Some Children See Him
2. I Saw Three Ships /Bring A Torch, Jeannette, Isabella
3. Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
4. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
5. (Christmas) Stay With Me
6. Earth & Sky
7. All Those Christmas Cliches
8. What Child Is This?/I Wonder As I Wander
9. A Child Is Born
10. Just In Time For Christmas
11. Baby It’s Cold Outside
12. A Song For Christmas
13. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)

Classic Holiday Cabaret CDs: Karen Mason

December 5, 2007

Christmas! Pic-7KDid you know We Three Kings is a torch song?  Well it is when Karen Mason sings it.  Her CD, Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!  is probably the first holiday CD I play every year (and the only holiday CD I play occasionally throught he year).  It’s a live recording of a holiday concert by Mason, a tradition on the New York cabaret scene.

This is the holidays with a Broadway belt.  And Mason goes from the joyous to the hysterical to the heartbreaking, to the heartfelt.  Especially wonderful are three bits of special material penned by the late, great Brian Lasser for Mason.  And Chris Denny provides amazing musical support for the many moods of Mason.

  •  What The World Needs Now / We Need A Little Christmas / It’sToday / We’re So Glad You’re Here
  • Merry Christmas / Sleigh Ride
  • Christmas Waltz / Christmas Song
  • Not This Christmas
  • Winter Wonderland / Let It Snow
  • Joy To The World / River
  • We Need A Little Christmas (reprise)
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  • Toyland / I Wont Grow Up
  •  My Favorite Thing / Count Your Blessing Instead Of Sheep
  • I Eat
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  •  Silent Night
  • We Three Kings
  • Another Year
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Classic Holiday Cabaret CDs: A Cabaret Christmas

December 4, 2007

Here in December, I thought I’d do a reminder of some of the best holiday recordings from cabaret artists. 

A Cabaret Christmas is still probably the best overview of how holiday songs can translate into the cabaret style.  It presents a wide variety of great artists doing fairly straightforward versions of great holiday tunes.  One or two tracks may raise some eyebrows, but the overall quality is exceptional.  And I still haven’t hear recordings that improve upon Barbara Cook’s version of White Christmas or Margaret Whiting doing Tex Arnold’s arrangement of The Christmas Waltz.

1. Winter Wonderland – Ann Hampton Callaway/Billy Stritch
2. A Christmas Love Song – Ann Hampton Callaway
3. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Billy Stritch
4. Merry Christmas To Me/Hard Candy Christmas – KT Sullivan
5. Season’s Greetings – Julie Wilson
6. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Barbara Carroll
7. It Must Be Christmas – Gerry Mulligan
8. After The Holidays – Andrea Marcovicci
9. Silent Night – Karen Akers & Andrea Marcovicci
10. I Don’t Remember Christmas – Karen Akers
11. The Christmas Waltz – Margaret Whiting
12. What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? – Mary Cleere Haran
13. Christmas In The City – Jay Leonhart
14. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Dorothy Loudon
15. White Christmas – Barbara Cook