Cabaret Hotline Online is an independent website with more than 7,400 pages of news, information and stories on cabaret, owned and maintained by Stu Hamstra. CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE is not affiliated with any club or organization. It is totally supported through advertising and membership donations. This blog is an extension of the website and newsletter.


"His eye is on the sparrow...."

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Rare photo of Stu Hamstra and sister Ann Travis taken on Friday, June 26th in Saddle Brook, NJ - copies will probably be available on e-bay at $500 each at some future date.


Once again CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE will be presenting two awards at the annual birthday show - and we are ready to announce the first, the JEFF MATSON AWARD - given annually to a person(s) who has done extraordinary work in supporting, mentoring and giving leadership to others in cabaret. This year we are presenting the award to Sue Matsuki, a lady who has done all those things over the years, in addition to performing, volunteering, and even promoting fellow performers (and attending a lot of shows). Sue has also assisted CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE and me personally in producing many of the special events we have sponsored - like our Birthday Parties. As an award winner, Sue will also perform a number in the show. I hope you will come to the party this year to help us honor this very loving, giving - and talented lady.

The DOTTIE BURMAN SONGWRITER award will be announced shortly.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE is proud to announce the winners of the TOWNHOUSE HAS TALENT shows, hosted by Paul Sheesley and featuring musical directors Steve Bocchino and David Pelegrene. Over all, 41 singers competed to sold out houses each week, with 3 top contestants selected each week from the 15 to 20 singers competing weekly every Monday night at 9:30 pm. The winners, selected on Monday night, June 22nd were 1st place: Helen Klass; 2nd place: Beth Sacks; and
3rd place: John Michael Martinez. Paul Vincent came in a close 4th. Cash prizes were awarded, with the winner receiving $500. The contest was so successful, THE TOWNHOUSE OF NYC (236 East 58th Street, NYC - 212-754-4649 - ) has decided to repeat the series three more times this year. Stay tuned.



The final week of the ninth Adelaide Cabaret Festival ended with a record breaking attendance of over 48,000 and 60 shows sold out. "We've doubled our national and international visitors," said David Campbell. Foxtel will be screening headline act Bernadette Peters on its Bio channel in Australia on 27 June.

The opening night of the third week had only eight empty seats in the whole Festival Centre complex, with at least two shows in each of the six venues. The excitement in the air was palpable.

So what could be a better way to start the final week than with the sassy, uninhibited Lillias White and her amazing voice in "From Brooklyn to Broadway". From dancing on her grandmother's dining table in Brooklyn to the shining lights of Broadway, Lillias takes us on her journey featuring songs from her Award winning work in theatre and film. From the beginning you immediately felt her command of the stage and her audience, and knew you were in good hands and in for a good time. Backed up by a terrific funky trio led by the talented Matt Carey, Lillias dazzled us with her rich vocal range and big voice. With a flirtatious look in her eyes, Lillias' ample body did a 'shimmy and a shake' to the rhythms of the music to the delight of the audience.

Donning a huge, dishevelled afro wig she gave us a "show stopper" number singing The Oldest Profession, as the tired old prostitute Sonya from Cy Coleman's Broadway Musical "The Life". Lillias' comic delivery had just the right touches of pathos to create the blase character of the hooker, which won her a Tony Award. For her finale, Lillias capped her stunning performance with a medley of gorgeous "Lilliasised" versions of songs made famous by contemporary greats like Streisand.

The "Carpenters From Kempsey" is a very different type of tribute show as two country hicks Darren and Sharon Carpenter perform the songs of those other famous siblings. Fortunately they do sing the songs well because their antics, bickering and 70's fashion look are hilarious. The audience happily joined in a sing-along of old favourites Close To You, Top of the World and Only Yesterday. The hicksville country line dancing and other routines were appropriately awful as was there 'back of the barn' stories. It was this clever juxtaposing of the lovely Carpenter style singing and the contrasting monotone drawl of the country bumpkins that made the show so amusing and enjoyable.

One of the great attractions of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival is the incredible variety of acts presented, with lots of surprises along the way. "Janet Kline and Her Parlor Boys" is one of these unusual delights. This Ukulele Lady from California takes us on a charming nostalgic trip down memory lane of the 1920' and 30's by researching and bringing to life "the innocent and happy songs" that peppered those boom and bust years. Delicately flouncing about in her pretty lavender chiffon frock this cute flapper recreates the dream world of Hollywood's depiction of the times. Rather than the harshness of life in the Great Depression and the brutal reality of the corruption and gangsterism fostered by Prohibition.

No wonder the act has such appeal to us in our depressing times. Janet Kline and her Parlor Boys charmed us into their make believe world. This escapism was made irresistible as Klein's flashing eyes effused a 'champagne bubbly' invitation to join in the fun. Launching into Who's That Knocking at My Door, Hello Bluebird Hello and what was considered bawdy in its day How Could Red Riding Hood Have Been so Very Good. Her Parlor Boys were equally talented and good fun such as when the piano player gave us When Erasmus Plays His Old Kazoo on a wahzoo.

Under David Campbell's artistic leadership the Festival is encouraging and helping established performers such as Mark Trevorrow to develop new shows. Mark's famous alter ego Bob Downe goes to war in a tribute to troop shows of the past in "World War Bob". With hilarious, satirical characters and songs of wartime, the history of war unfolds from the Crimean to the Cold War around the theme and song War: what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

With only four multi-talented performers we are treated to a spectacular show. A cavalcade of fabulous characters kept the show rollicking along. Jane Markey appeared as a formidable Britannia, Florence Nightingale and Bob's mum. Musical director/pianist John Thorn and drummer Jeremy Hopkins managed some nifty song and dance routines as well as playing multiple characters. Jeremy's beautiful tenor voice in Lili Marlene melted our hearts for the short lived lives of so many young that are always sacrificed in war.

Private Bob keeps making well timed entrances in his 'fabulous' costumes, even a flowing caftan from the Peace Movement of the '60's. The back projections drawn from authentic sources added to the validity and punch to the show's theme. Sing-alongs of the old songs were enthusiastically belted out by the audience with the help of song sheets. Private Bob brilliantly soldiered on entertaining the troops in a terrific show.

I never thought I would enjoy a yodelling show until I saw Mary and Melinda Schneider, mother and daughter, in "Schneiderville". This is the beauty of the quality and variety presented in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival that if you are prepared to take a few risks, new joys can be experienced. Mary is a showbiz legend having yodelled on stage with the likes of Jose Carreras and Peter Ustinov and has toured the world for over 50 years. Mary now joined by her daughter, award wining country singer/composer Melinda, make a formidable duo. Campbell saw them on a talk show and was so impressed with their singing and comic banter he immediately called them to do a show for the Festival ...and the audience loved it.

Comedians, who can sing, especially their own satirical songs, are delightful morsels in the feast of cabaret on offer at the Festival. In the smallest venue, funny lady Jackie Loeb in "I Really Am Lovely" delivers a solo, non-stop, one hour attack on many sacred icons. I thought there was a strong possibility of being struck by a vengeful lightning bolt as she lampooned the idiosyncrasies of the many different gods that humanity worships (Christian, Jewish, Hindu etc...). Loeb really stirred the pot when she cross-pollinated sacred beliefs of two religions to make a new hybrid religion. Loeb gave us a rip roaring act that recalled the German Weimar cabaret comedians 'who took no prisoners'.

What would a contemporary cabaret fest be without some reference to the Beatles so the aficionados turned up to pack the house for "Everybody's Got Something To Hide (except me and my monkey)". The rapt audience didn't seem to mind that most of the Beatles' biggest hits would be omitted and instead substituted with such lesser known songs as Crippled Inside, She's Leaving Home and a most moving rendition of Beautiful Boy. Libby O'Donovan and Melissa Langton sang up a storm with their rich, powerful voices. Mark Jones on piano joined in the singing and led a stunning band to the delight of the Beatles' fans in this cabaret show about the Fab Four and their repertoire.

One of the most original and moving shows in the Festival came form Ursula Yovich. Born of a Serbian father and an aboriginal mother her predicament is symbolised in the title "Magpie Blues", since the Magpie bird is neither white nor black. A natural story teller this young woman, exposed her very emotional journey in her search: for identity; for love; for acceptance; for knowledge and finally reconciliation with her aboriginal heritage. Her engaging inner beauty surfaced as she narrated in such an unaffected and honest way, growing up, nearly going off the rails, realising her singing ambitions and discovering her acting prowess that has won her roles in film and on stage. As she said "The whole 'somewhere over the rainbow' story for me hasn't finished yet as she launched into an almost mystical rendition of the song.

It was a frustrating experience being only able to catch a tiny segment of the premiere of Kate Ceberano's "Love & the Bottom Up". Her voice was as wonderful as ever but it was her acting that I was not familiar with which so impressed me. Pete Titcherner from the Independent Weekly said "What Kate does in this show is deliver a delightful insight into the female perspective of love...the good bits, the bad bits and the very, very ugly bits."

Patrick McDonald from The Advertiser commented that the appeal of the show "is due almost entirely to Ceberano's warmth, strength, humour and empathy. She sells the script as convincingly, emotively and powerfully as she does the song lyrics with the voice which has won almost every award in Australia." Apparently Kate's song journey of 'love gone wrong hits' was a hit, especially with the female members of the audience.

My final show left me with an unforgettable memory of this fabulous Festival. It was encapsulated in a vivid image of the handsome Nick Christo shaking it all about in a very sexy version of Shimmy Like My Sister Kate. Christo, without drag, re-creates the outrageous night club singer Francis Faye who visited and shocked Australia on a number of occasions. Dressed in a neat black suit, tie and silk shirt Christo channelled Faye, seducing us to experience her extraordinary life from singing in a speakeasy frequented by Al Capone to becoming a legend in her own life time. With his slinky hips, flashing eyes and sensual mouth Christo turned us on to what was so captivating about Faye. Her outlandish and flamboyant performance style influenced Bette Midler and Peter Allen. Certainly Nick Christos's highly skilled and finely tuned performance left a lasting impression and the desire to see more of his work.

It is nine years since The Adelaide Cabaret Festival was established and has become a hugely successful and popular event attracting cabaret artists and enthusiasts from around the world. This year's program continued to celebrate the diversity of cabaret and succeeded in attracting new audience streams.

Artistic Director David Campbell drew together a stunning program of some of the most successful artists of contemporary cabaret, along with exciting up and coming artists whose talent captivated audiences. He also challenged well known artists to push the boundaries and embrace the cabaret genre. With artists from the U.S., France, Canada, Argentina, New Zealand, along with a host of talented Australian performers the Festival attracted record attendances and accolades for the quality program. David Campbell has managed to extend the reach of the Festival and stamp his own vibrant personality on it.

This year's line-up included 257 Artists, 108 of them South Australian performers. The Festival presented 133 performances of 57 different shows in 6 venues across 16 days of the Festival opening on the Queen's Birthday long weekend.

In 2010 The Adelaide Cabaret Festival will celebrate its first decade, 11-26 June, so there is plenty of time to plan a trip to the best and biggest cabaret festival in the world. It's a great fun festival!

Full details of the program on

Monday, June 22, 2009


Every other Wednesday night Leslie Holmes holds an amazing Open Mic night at the AMAZING THINGS ARTS CENTER (160 Hollis Street, Framingham, MA - 508-405-2787 - ), and each show features a special guest. On Wednesday, June 24th the featured guest is singer/songwriter Barbara Kessler, with Steven Sussman at the piano for the open=mic. The show starts at 7:30 pm, and there is an $8 cover charge ($7 cover for BACA members).


Dana Lorge and Richard Skipper will be hosting "Wednesday Night at the Iguana" on June 24th at 8:00 pm at IGUANA'S VIP LOUNGE (240 West 54th Street, NYC - 212-765-5454 - ). This new comedy and musical variety show will feature special guest stars: Suzannah Bowling, Randy Charleville, Cynthia Crane, Sunny Leigh,and Maria Ottavia, with Jordan Clawson on keyboard, Saadi Zain on bass. There is a $10 cover, no minimum.


ANY WEDNESDAY, the free in-store concert series that features the best in cabaret, jazz and theater music takes at THE BARNES & NOBLE BOOKSTORE (66th Street and Broadway, NYC). Performances are at 6:00 pm. On Wednesday, June 24th at 6:00 pm, featured performer is Jeff Ide who will be singing selections from his newly released CD: WITHIN THE HEART OF ME - and he is joined by musical Director Paul Greenwood, Bassist Michael Blanco and guitarist Ric Molina. No Reservations taken. No cover. CDs for sale after show.


MIDTOWN JAZZ AT MIDDAY continues on Wednesdays at ST. PETER'S CHURCH - LIVING ROOM (Lexington Avenue at 54th Street, NYC). This long-running series was created by Edmund Anderson and is now produced by Ronny Whyte. Next show is on Wednesday, June 24th featuring the award-winning jazz duo Sandy Stewart & Bill Charlap. Performances are at 1:00 pm, $7 donation.


MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets) continues its popular primer seminar Cabaret 101, on the basics of producing a successful cabaret show on Wednesday, June 24th at 6:30 pm at WHERE EAGLES DARE's Blackbird Room (347 West 36th Street, NYC). Moderated by Hector Coris, panelists signed on so far are Tracy Stark, Lisa Moss, Sue Matsuki and Linda Amiel Burns. No cover for members of MAC - $10 for non-members.


THE TOWNHOUSE OF NYC (236 East 58th Street, NYC - 212-754-4649 - ) continues with its Talent Contest for Singers - THE TOWNHOUSE HAS TALENT - hosted by Paul Sheesley and held every Monday night through June 22nd, at 9:30 pm. You must sign up by 8:00 pm. Musical directors are Steve Bocchino and David Pelegrene. 1st prize is $500 and a guest spot on Paul Sheesley's TV Show "American Songbook". 2nd place: $250 and 3rd place $100. Tonight's show is the final of this series - with the winners of the past shows competing for the top prizes.


I saw two shows last week that really impressed. Dezur Kenna's "In These Shoes" at DON'T TELL MAMA on Thursday, June 18th is a rollicking fun show about the roles people play in life - and the shoes they wear to play them. Cleverly written and humorously performed, the show included an original song ("My Own Shoes") by Ms. Kenna, and an entertaining monologue interwoven with the title song "In These Shoes". Once more, Steven Ray Watkins' musical direction and arrangements, and Lennie Watts direction, were up to the dynamic talents of this most gifted entertainer. It has been 10 years since I saw her powerful presence on stage in ERIK AND THE SNOW MAIDENS (as Anna Dorothea) at EIGHTY-EIGHTS and in INDIGO RAT (as Fraulein Ulrike Spinwrecker) at ROSE'S TURN. Now she's back and as great as ever - in an entirely different milieu. Additional performances are scheduled for Thursday, June 25th at 8:30 pm and Sunday, June 28th at 5:30 pm. You'll find its just the right design and size for comfort.

On Saturday, I was at THE METROPOLITAN ROOM at 9:45 pm for a performance by another of my favorite performers, Euan Morton. This lad has crystal clear vocals with a Scottish flavor, and a knack for putting on a show that seems like it was written just for you. He makes it all look so easy, and his singing is so natural, one does not detect the perfect craftsmanship and hard work he puts into his performances. The show is a tribute to Robert Burns and the 250th anniversary of his birth. "Caledonia: Songs for the Homecoming" is a humorous and witty telling of Burn's life, interwoven with anecdotes from Euan's own youth in Scotland. It is a solid, entertaining hour featuring some of the most glorious singing heard in this town. Euan performers this week - Thursday through Saturday, June 25th through 27th at 9:45 pm. I guarantee you will be captivated.


This is the issue I spoke of on Thursday - the one that you may not receive, since I will be touching on a subject that I have been pondering and ruminating on for over a week now. To write about it, it is necessary to use some words that your spam/porn filter (or your internet server's setup) might reject. I will be putting it up on the website as soon as possible after it goes out. I will also be publishing the pertinent section on the blog - . Note that you may add your own comments right on the blog and, if appropriate, I will allow their display.

If comments are received and interest shown, I will also be expanding my thoughts and comments found here to a more detailed report on the website and blog, incorporating any of the comments I might receive as a result of this short "dissertation" today.

I'm sort of "sticking my neck out" on this one - there is a chance I may lose some subscribers, memberships and/or advertisers. I actually sort of doubt that. CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE subscribers/advertisers/members are pretty open minded and realize that, as usual, I write what I feel in my heart - and if what I feel in my heart turns our to be entirely wrong, my mind is changed accordingly.

The whole issue I will write about below came to mind on hearing some comments attributed to the current nominee for Supreme Court Justice, having to do with the different sensitivities that are often not addressed in today's society. I'm not going to get into the politics/racism thing, but want to address the issue only as it pertains to cabaret/nightlife.

Let's start with a note about my friend Daniel, who accompanies me to many cabaret shows and events. Daniel is from Ecuador, he is Latino, and (in the same way the Supreme Court nominee has said she looks at the law) definitely sees cabaret from a different perspective - something many cabaret performers do not seem to be sensitive to. Jokes and snide remarks about folks from "south of the border" are rampant in cabaret and comedy, seemingly more so since political correctness forbids the denigration of other groups in today's society. I see him wince when this happens, and I myself have become quite sensitive to this as well.

Personally, I prefer the good old days, before the PC police began to crack down on Irish jokes, Polish jokes, etc. Seems today you can only tell ethnic jokes if your are of the same ethnicity of the subject of the joke. (Strange that no one seems to mind Mexican jokes or Mormon and Catholic Priest jokes, for that matter.) I feel everyone should loosen up a bit - after all, its meant to be funny - but that's a whole different topic for another day.

OK, back to perspectives. Several weeks ago I received a request from a journalist friend for me to include a statement about gay marriage in the newsletter. I demurred, and responded to the writer that CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE was about cabaret and entertainment, sent to 2700 people, each of whom probably have a different viewpoint on this topic, a topic which had no real relationship to cabaret. His response - a paraphrased quote - was that 90 percent of the male performers in cabaret were gay, as was 90 percent of the audience.

My response was that perhaps he was not seeing the same performers and attending the same shows as I. While I agree that one finds more gay folks in the entertainment field than, say, in the construction industry or at a hockey game, his generalization was far from accurate. But his comment planted a seed. After all, this was his perspective.

Then, step two. I attend the MAC awards, and noticed something that truly was mind bending - the amazing open-minded MAC voters! The results in some of the categories were astounding. It seems that the MAC voters were making choices this year on the basis of the quality and entertainment values of the shows rather than simply the popularity of the performers (as has been the rule so often in the past). I am writing, of course, about presence of several lesbian performers in the winner's circle - openly lesbian performers, I add. Of course, that's my perspective of the event.

Next comes that comment attributed to the Supreme Court nominee, which leads the question I pose today. Let's face it: just as so many gays have found a place to be themselves in the entertainment field, other gays have found a place in the field of writing about cabaret. And I have had numerous e-mails from non-gay and lesbian performers who feel that they are at an unfair advantage when it comes to getting reviewers to come to their shows - and to even get fair treatment in the reviews that result when they do come. That's not necessarily my perspective, but I can surely understand their concern. Just remember, not all cabaret reviewers/writers are gay, just as not all hockey players and construction workers are straight.

But from the perspective of those who have complained, its sort of a reverse kind of gay prejudice on the part of reviewers. (By the way, I think that performers of color might also feel they are overlooked by the "entertainment press" - except perhaps in the jazz/blues area.) You see, if my journalist friend feels that male cabaret performers and cabaret audience members are 90% gay, could it be that he is being selective in his coverage and insensitive/neglectful when it comes to openly lesbian and straight performers?

I originally was going to interview two lesbian cabaret performer/friends on this topic, and spoke briefly with them last week. But I decided to open this discussion to everyone - gay/lesbian/straight, writers/readers, etc. I would like your thoughts and comments - your perspective. Do you feel that sexual orientation has help/hindered performers in their quest for recognition in the field of cabaret? As a performer, have you had to "closet" yourself as either straight or gay to get that record contract, that cruise line job, that booking, that good review? Or, maybe, conversely, have you been forced to "out" yourself? Please don't name names - that's not what this is about. I want to hear about experiences - and not just in NYC or the USA. Please be tasteful but honest in your comments. Just e-mail them to me - or post them on the blog in the comments area below this item when it appears there, if you feel so inclined.

I often ask for readers to comment on various things I write about - and folks rarely do (I am lucky to get 2 or 3 reactions, at best). But here is something that I really need folks to write in about. Of course your name will be held completely confidential (unless you wish to be directly quoted). Confidentiality is easy to promise here, because CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE is strictly a one-person operation: I'm the only one who reads my mail.

And, even if you prefer not to comment on the issue at hand, let me know your thoughts about the inclusion of these kinds of articles in the newsletter and on the website - not quite editorials, not quite exposes - just things I feel we should not keep bunched up inside. That's my perspective.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE ENCOURAGED - either e-mail me at or click on the line just below marked COMMENTS and post your thoughts right here - comments are moderated for appropriateness and good manners.

Special note: if I only receive a few responses, I will drop the subject. It seems important to me, but may be of little or no interest to most of you.