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

Road Report: Summer in the City Part 1

August 8, 2008

I’m having a very 21st Century moment — blogging at a rental computer terminal at a Tasti-D-Lite in the middle of Chelsea in a thunderstorm.

The Lina Koutrakos / Lennie Watts Summer in the City workshop opened tonight with a fasinating panel discussion where the team roped in a fascinating panel of very distinct cabaret personalities to discuss cabaret and take the participants’ questions. Karen Mack (KM)*, Julie Reyburn (JR), Mary Foster Conklin (MF)* and KT Sullivan (KT) were amazing generous and open in their discussion of a lot of issues. Here are my notes:

KT: I only sing songs I love

MF: Cabaret is a room. You make this part for yourself. Cabaret is about lyrics, jazz is the music.

KT: (In Europe I was told) “What’s not Mozart is cabaret.”

KT: We get to sing these wonderful songs from these terrible musicals…you get the best of these shows.

JR: When you are not real it hits the audience hard

MF: Class is a safe place to search

The business of cabaret…

KM: There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money

LW: Other than stamps, everything else is negotiable

KT: Take down the address of everyone you meet

LW: “Build it and they will come” does not work for cabaret

LW: You will be depending on your friends aand family (as part of your cabaret audience) until the day you die

LK: Don’t underestimate the people who come to see you again and again

KM: There is no substitute for a great product

KM: Do not cut corners in a way that does not give you value

MFC: Say yes to everything** (performance opportunities)

LK: Part of the craft of performing is believing it

On music directors…

MFC: Marriage is monogomous; music is polygymous

MFC: If you work with different music directors, it teaches you about your music. (And forces you to take more control of your music.)

* It was very humbling to be told by Karen Mack and Mary Foster Conklin that they read this blog

** My beloved mentor said that the only exception was when the question was “Do you mind?”