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, July 11, 2009


Due to a family emergency, Karen Mack & Michael Holland have to cancel their "Gashole:Hole-O-Matic!" performance tonight at THE DUPLEX CABARET THEATRE (61 Christopher Street, NYC - 1-212-255-5438 ). They'll be back next week.


I am just now collecting my thoughts over Thursday night's event - I left the THE WEST BANK CAFE/LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATER (407 West 42nd Street, NYC - 212-695-6909 ) with a heart filled with gratitude to all who worked to make the show "one of the best ever" according to Don Schaffer - who sees a lot of shows. Thank you all again! (more on this in Monday's issue)

Special thanks to Phil Bonds and Kenny Bell, who run the club - for putting up with us for another year. This is truly a professionally run operation where they anticipate your every need. And no one in this town does lights & sounds better than Joey Pier - a master at the light/sound board and a swell guy to work with.

And a huge special thanks to the folks who stepped forth early on and donated sponsorships for the show - covering in advance every penny of expense and making it possible for us to concentrate on the production side and let the tickets sell themselves. We weren't under pressure to fill the room, but it happened anyway.

The 19th Birthday Party of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE was sponsored in part by Raisa Katona Bennett , Suzanne Carrico, Chelsea's Desktop, Inc. - Chelsea Hudgins, Grace Cosgrove, Creative Minds Productions, Teresa Fischer, Marty Geiger, Eric Michael Gillett, Laura Hull, and Jim Van Slyke. Thank you all once more!

And to the performers: I could see from your faces while you performing that you were trying to do your best for this audience filled with the cream of cabaret - performers and fans. This added a special excitement to the show - and an extra thank you from me.

To Tracy Stark: working under pressure, accompanying many performers you have never worked with before (including presenting a few songs that had their premiere at the show), you are magnificent. Everything that was "thrown at you" you took in stride. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.


Award-winning impersonator Tommy Femia's returns for one night only on Saturday, July 11th at 8:30 pm at DON'T TELL MAMA (343 West 46th Street, NYC - 212-757-0788 - ) with a special "Pride" edition of his acclaimed "Judy! Live!" show. He is joined by his long-time musical Christopher Denny. Tommy performs live, not lip-synch, and in this special show he'll be belting Garland's best-loved classics. Also on the bill are songs that the legendary singer never got a chance to perform. Tommy always has a guest star, with this show's guest TBA. There is a $20 cover plus a 2-drink minimum. $15 cover for members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE.
Bistro & 2009 MAC Award winner Marcus Simeone brings a brand new show to THE METROPOLITAN ROOM (34 West 22nd Street, NYC - 212-206-0440 - ) for one more performances on Saturday, July 11th at 7:30 pm. The show, "Everything Must Change" is all about the beautiful songs that changed lives through the music and lyrics of Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Van Heusen, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Bobby Darin, Carol King and more. The songs are a unique and visionary mix of familiar and rarely heard songs celebrating the insistence of change as seen through the eyes of this acclaimed and exciting singer. As an artist and a person, Marcus Simeone has experienced exceptional life-alterting experiences over this past year, contributing to the development of this show. Marcus will be accompanied by a band led by musical director Barry Levitt. There is a $20 cover plus a 2-drink minimum.$15 cover for members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE.
Vocalist Jackie Draper returns to THE WEST BANK CAFE/LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATER (407 West 42nd Street, NYC - 212-695-6909 - ) with her tenth solo show, "SOMETHING NEW IN MY LIFE". She performs once again with Music Director Gregory Toroian (at the piano) and Ritt Henn on bass. Performances are Sunday, July 12th at 5:00 pm and Thursday, July 16th at 7:00 pm. Her special guest is dance partner Franklin Ayala and special guest artist is Robbyn Tongue, on alto sax. Director is Helen Baldassare. in her new show she will sing, seek, and find "the something new" that recharges, refreshes and revitalizes each of our lives, through songs in English, French, and Spanish by Legrand, the Bergmans, Lasser, Kern, Mercer, Weill, the Gershwins, Pizzarelli/Molaskey, Porter, Bucchino, Aznavour, and others. There is an $18 cover plus a $15 food/drink minimum. $15 cover for members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE.
Shana Farr brings her debut cabaret show, Pure Imagination, to THE WEST BANK CAFE/LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATER (407 West 42nd Street, NYC - 212-695-6909 - ) for one more performances: Sunday, July 12th at 2:00 pm. Shana Farr is known for her classically trained, operetta voice and has been seen on several New York stages, including the New York City Center. In "Pure Imagination" she sets aside the classical music and brings her rich, expressive voice to songs from all different genres and songwriters, including Kurt Weill, Harold Arlen, Tim Di Pasqua, Francesca Blumenthal, Jeanine Tesori, Cyndi Lauper, Carly Simon and more. The show is directed by Lennie Watts, with musical direction by Steven Ray Watkins. There is a $20 cover plus a $15 food/drink minimum. $10 cover for members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE.
"Cabaret's Sweetheart" will be singing the songs of "America's Sweetheart" in Jenna Esposito's brand new show celebrating the songs of Connie Francis at THE METROPOLITAN ROOM (34 West 22nd Street, NYC - 212-206-0440 - ) on Tuesdays at 7:00 pm, with one shows remaining - July 14th. A 2008 and 2009 MAC award nominee for female vocalist, Jenna made her NYC cabaret debut in August, 2004 and has since performed shows at the Duplex, Danny's Skylight Room, the Laurie Beechman Theatre, and the Metropolitan Room. Jenna is also the host of Metrojam the Metropolitan Room's open mic, which takes place on the first Friday of every month. In the show, Jenna sings the songs of "America's Sweetheart," Connie Francis including favorites such as "Where The Boys Are," "Stupid Cupid," and "Who's Sorry Now," as well as some lesser-known gems. Directed by Lennie Watts, with musical direction by Fortune Esposito. There is a $20 cover plus a 2-drink minimum. $15 cover for members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE.
Popular musical comic Joan Jaffe returns to cabaret with her new show, "Joan Jaffe Sings Funny!" on Bastille Day at the THE TRIAD (158 West 72nd Street, NYC - 212-362-2590 - ) on Tuesday, July 14th at 7:00 pm. Jerry Scott is musical director and the director is Hal Blankenship. Along with some surprises, "Joan Jaffe Sings Funny" will focus on mostly real fun songs and banter with four outstanding comic songs written by award winning songwriter Francesca Blumenthal as well as one by Allan Arkin and some sassy rarities. Ms. Jaffe has understudied some of the theater's "healthiest" women. She and husband Hal Blankenship were recently featured as Burt and Lizzie in the award winning film "The Savages," starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney. She has also been featured in Disney's "Enchanted," "Approaching Union Square" and "The Producers." She has appeared on Broadway in "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Bajour." Off-Broadway, she was seen in "Trophy Wife," "The George M. Cohan Revue" and "Yankee Doodle Boy." On television, she has appeared on "Saturday Night Live," "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and Comedy Central. There is a $15 cover plus a 2-drink minimum. $10 cover for members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE.
Johnson & Toledo Entertainment presents "As Gay As It Gets!" a new musical comedy revue by Eduardo Toledo and Maury Johnson on Friday, July 17th and Saturdays, August 8th and 15th at THE DUPLEX CABARET THEATRE (61 Christopher Street, NYC - 1-212-255-5438 - ). All performances begin at 7:00 pm. The cast for As Gay As It Gets! includes Lennie Joel, Patrick Kuzara, and Elias John Ruperto, all three making their NYC cabaret debut. Direction is by Jay Rogers, who will also perform a song a la Noel Coward. The show presents twelve all-original songs, created by the new songwriting team of Maury Johnson and Eduardo Toledo, covering the joys of gay life: the gym, hot studs, love affairs, divas, cowboys, circuit parties, the down low and ... fashion school. Each topic is matched up with a specific musical genre, ranging from pop to jazz, disco, hip hop, Beatles, Burt Bacharach, Bollywood, Roy Rogers, Devo, bossa nova, and more to deliver an eclectic and electric new queer musical revue. The evening will be presided over by award-winning cabaret legend Jay Rogers, who will also perform a song a la Noel Coward. There is a $20 cover plus a 2-drink minimum. $15 cover for members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE.


So last night we all gathered to celebrate the 19th year of Cabaret Hotline On Line and the 70th year of our beloved Stu Hamstra at the beautiful WEST BANK CAFE/LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATER (407 West 42nd Street, NYC - 212-695-6909). What a night! Now admittedly I am writing as this year's Jeff Matson Award Winner so it was, personally, a gloriously wonderful night for me, but I want to just talk about the show and Stu.

First up was the lovely of soul and voice, Miss Grace Cosgrove (with back up singers whose names, unfortunately are not listed on the sheet that I have in front of me but they were both FAB) singing "Summer in the City"! For those of you who do not know Grace, she fulfills the meaning of her name. She has very quickly become a part of the NY Cabaret Scene by hosting an on-going series called Grace Notes which has now become one of the "it" events to be invited to perform in. Grace, I'm available, anytime...I'm just sayin'! LOL!

Moira Danis killed with her very funny set up about the "history" of all events that happened on Stu's actual Birthday (July 6th) and then went right into a beautiful song called "My Love" celebrating her new CD and her on-going wonderful Petula Clark tribute show. Love the vocals and the dress Moira!

The next four acts are exactly what this night and Stu is all about. I like to say that Stu is a reviewer (although he claims he no longer really reviews) who still goes to see folks who are not the top 20 "usual suspects" and, because of this, the community (Ca-Ching -$1.00 into the pot for every time we used the word last night) gets to meet his "finds". While the 2nd man listed below is not a new comer, the other three were newbies to me and to most of us so Hotline and this show is like our own personal TV guide to the new season (with weather & financial reports included as one person mentioned from stage!)

A young, handsome Ryan Greer sang and danced to a Jobim song as if he were playing a stage in Atlantic City. Someone leaned over to me and said, "He sounds like a young Tony DeSare!" High praise indeed young man...Tony is the BOMB in your genre so, study him well. Ryan will be one of the "younguns" that sustain this art form we love so much far into the future.

Jim Speake has been around for awhile and is a charming, talented man who brought the house down with his rendition of "Thank God I'm Old" with the delightful Steven Ray Watkins on the piano. (Incidentally, Steven got such a rousing amount of applause just for playing...he is so beloved.) With Jim, while I have known him for a long time and have caught him doing a song here or there, this one number made me want to make a point to go to see his next show. Again, THIS is what Stu is about!

Up next was another lovely newbie (to me) that Stu "found". She did "Apt. 14G" which, to us cabaret goers is a (great) staple song in the business BUT she added such flair to how she did it (her opera voice is spectacular!) that we were all charmed by her. She happens to be stunningly beautiful too so keep your eyes out for Shana (like punim) Farr.

OK, so call me a bit prejudice on this one but one of the surprise performances came from out of the house of the Beechman. Waitstaff lovely Becca Johnson came up asking Stu if she too could sing a song...and SING she did! OMG! Becca is one of my favorite gals at the Beechman but who knew? See, again, who knew....Stu knew and passed it along to us. She blew us all away with her rendition of "It's An Art" and ode, if you will, to being a waitress. Her last note alone was worth the price of admission!

The Delivery Girls...Amie Carey, Mary Carey and April Henry along with MD Tracy Stark...what can I say? Goddesses all! With tight 4 part harmonies, these three gals along with Tracy wowed us with beauty and talent! One of them (Amie) was even taking her group title a little too seriously by being, um, let's say, ready to deliver! I am a new fan of this most wonderful group. Legs for days too!

Tracy Stark...beloved, talented, gorgeous, generous, multi-award winning and, like Steven, one of the loudest WHOOPS of the evening when introdcued because we all love her so much. Doing one of her own songs "I Will Find My Own Strength" she became an inspiration to us all by her words as well as her example. I adore this women! Thank you Tracy from all of us for your tremendous contribution last night in giving your Birthday gift to Stu of playing the show for us.

So next up was my dear friend Miles Philips, last year's Jeff Matson Award Winner, to introduce me as this years winner. Let me just say that everyone in the business should have a friend like Miles. Usually when one is being introduced like this, you are nervous and only half hear what's being said about you but I forced myself to be present last night and to take it all in and how he loves me made me all did actually...everyone who stood up, everyone who gave me hugs, all the emails, Stu for giving me this award, Brooks (Jeff's writing partner) and Sara (Jeff's sister) being the in audience and all my "peeps" the folks at my table and around me meant the world to me. I humbly say thank you for the recognition and will strive to live up to the honor. 'Nuff said!

This year's Dottie Berman Award then went to Brett Kristofferson and, upon hearing Brett's dear friend, the incomparable Angela Shultz, sing one of his songs, we all knew why he was this year's winner. I recently saw the review that Brett did of all of his tunes and it was just spectacular. His body of work is so impressive. The funny is really funny and the profound is just so deep. Angela's voice and performance was a pure moment of sound and emotion that just moved me to tears. Singers should seek out this man's material and fast because we're all going to be doing Brett Kristofferson songs soon! Congrats Brett. I knew Dottie very well and she would be proud to know you have been honored in her name. Angela...we're going to be great pals, I just know it. Can't wait to see your show!

Another fairly new person to cabaret but an oh SO welcome face and voice on the scene is the delicious Raissa Katona Bennett. Like Miss Grace, Raissa runs another fabulous on-going program at Tudor City which is another very coveted invitation. She, single-handedly (well with the help of her handsome husband) is bringing Cabaret to the locals of Tudor City which is putting fannies in the seats of our shows folks! BRAVA and thank you Raissa! She sang a song written by Hector Coris on lyrics (another beloved energy in our community - CA-CHING) and David Caldwell on music which was a tribute to her previously mentioned handsome husband, Garrett. Let's just say that we all now know WAY too much about Dr. Dimples! Paging Dr. Dimples to the nurse's station! ; ) Needless-to-say, she brought the house down with that one AND probably "got lucky" last night too! You go girl!

Up next was another divine "find" by Stu. This slim, wide eyed, sweet, seemingly shy young man takes the stage to sing one of Stu's favorite songs, "Eye on the Sparrow" and he opens his mouth and out comes the voice of Ol' Joe from Showboat. Spectacular! Another young man to watch for is Terrell Baker and again, thanks to Stu 70 or so people now know this!

The 2nd surprise guest is fast becoming a NY treasure. I've yet to see his Neil Sedaka show but hear that it is AMAZING and cannot wait to see it. Jim Van Slyke sang "Solitaire". A solitary man with a voice from the heavens at the piano doesn't seem like it can get any better than this so who but another NY treasure can follow such a moment?

That would be the one and only Tom Anderson to close the show and boy, what a way to go out! Part of me does not want to spoil the surprise of a song that will take the community (CA-CHING) by storm so let me just say FUNNY FUNNY FUNNY. And, anyone who wants to know how to set up an audience for the unexpected in what's to follow...look to Tom. I'm still giggling over this song!

As always thanks to Kenny, Phil, Joey and the entire staff at the Beechman for all that they do for us all. I'll be bringing my new show there in September and cannot wait to be with my Beechman "family" again!

I've been to all and have appeared in many of Stu's Birthday shows over the years and they are all stellar evenings. It's an array of some of the biggest names with some of the most wonderful new comers you will ever hope to see ono ne stage and last night was no exception. It was such a good show and flew by for me! It's important to note this time and time again...if it were not for Stu Hamstra (and our other reviewers out there seeing all these new acts) most of us would not know who to watch or what to see. I know that I can speak on behalf of the entire...YOU KNOW WHAT...I'm broke saying:


Sue Matsuki

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


SMOKE JAZZ & SUPPER CLUB (2751 Broadway, NYC - ) IN SMOKE - a fire in the building has closed the club temporarily. The club suffered severe water damage. There is no floor, no ceiling, no sound system. More news as we get it.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Raissa Katona Bennett hosts an amazing array of Broadway and cabaret artists as THE CONCERTS AT TUDOR CITY GREENS has its first show of summer. "Songs for a Summer Night" in Tudor City Greens Park (enter at Tudor City Place between East 42nd and East 43rd Streets) on Wednesday, July 8th, with sets at 6:00 pm. Raissa's guests this month are Spider Saloff, Julie Reyburn, Ricky Ritzel, Daryl Glenn, Eric Michael Gillett, Nina Hennessy, guitarist Sean Harkness and Philip Chaffin. The musical director is David Caldwell. The show is free and open to the public, with an opportunity given to support the park conservancy with a donation.


We've come a long way, baby! Starting with a small Apple II-c computer back in July 1990, with a dot matrix printer, continuous form paper, a box of envelopes and a coil of stamps, the first issue of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE was created and mailed to about 30 "subscribers" 19 years ago today. (July 6th) This morning I fired up my "state of the art" iMac, connected world-wide via the internet, and began production of this issue, to be sent in a few minutes, instantly, to over 2700 subscribers, backed by a 6700 page website, 2 blogs, 2 TWITTER accounts, and a giant coffee maker to keep the wheels oiled and humming. And supported by advertising and membership donations from truly devoted friends - not devoted to me, but devoted to the art - and the artists of cabaret.

And previous to that, in a hospital in New Jersey, 70 years ago today, at around 6:15 am (according to my birth certificate) I entered this world without any inkling of what would be in store. In fact, I still wake up every morning with that same feeling - expectation, optimism, with a slight tinge of fear of impending doom. But it has been an enjoyable ride with more ups and downs than the Coney Island Cyclone, and more thrills and chills than a Stephen King novel.

We're going to be celebrating those two events on Thursday night, July 9th, at THE LAURIE BEECHMAN - and there are just two tickets unsold. I know exactly who I wish would take those two seats, but I have stopped promoting. The next few days will be a time of rest, getting a haircut, and getting mentally prepared for the show. Oh yes, tomorrow we get the Program Booklet printed and collated. That's a bit of a project. But no newsletter on Thursday - that itself is a great little bonus I am giving myself.

I also suspended my diet as of last Thursday. All that calorie counting and weighing and worrying. I plan to pick it up again on Friday, but I am enjoying these "guilt free" meals. I lost close to 30 pounds (I wanted to lose 50, so I'll keep that goal in mind) and feel great - much easier to tie my shoelaces and pick things up now (I though it was old age, but it was too large a belly that was the problem).


Did you see today's story (below) of Broadway show tunes return to the Theater District? MAMA'S booking manager Sidney Myer hinted at the concept a few weeks ago and now we see it is brought to fruition. Now lovers of show-tunes have a place to congregate in mid-town again - Tuesday nights at DON'T TELL MAMA! The project is starting during the summer, so it is up to fellow show-tune lovers to get behind this during the slow summer period - most tourists don't have a clue as to what a show tune is.

Other trends in cabaret and nightlife that go to prove (as David Kenney always says) "Everything Old is New Again". Have you noticed in my listings the increasing number of shows that are using the "burlesque" format? This style, formerly confined to "downtown" is permeating every nook and cranny in NYC cabaret and nightlife lately - THE TRIAD, THE DUPLEX, DON'T TELL MAMA, BROADWAY BABY - they are all presenting these types of shows lately. And it is spreading to Los Angeles and San Francisco as well.

And, slowly but surely, the "nightclub" style is returning - perhaps best exemplified by the popularity of nightclub-style performances by gals like Marilyn Maye, Terese Genecco, Jenna Esposito, Gretchen Reinhagen and others who fill their shows with excitement and "through the roof" vocals and blasting, brassy arrangements.

Mini-revues - like those written by Hector Coris - are having a comeback as well. New shows at MAMA'S and THE DUPLEX in this format are sprinkled through their schedules. Creative, talented songwriters, composers, writers and singers are finding new ways via cabaret to present their works. These shows might never be presented at the so-called "major" rooms, where decorum is king. But those rooms cater to the "elite" who are usually about 5 years behind the times. Cabaret is evolving - or actually more accurately - returning to is multi-faceted roots.


PLEASE REMEMBER: There will be no issue of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE on Thursday, July 9th, the date of our 19th Birthday party show. This is a double issue and includes the listing of discounted shows offered by members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE to members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE usually sent on Thursdays. Remember, members offering discounts to other members will have their offering listed in every Thursday issue (except, of course, next week it will be Monday).


In the tradition of ROSE'S TURN, DANNY'S, EIGHTY EIGHT'S and other closed piano bars of yore, DON'T TELL MAMA (343 West 46th Street, NYC - 212-757-0788 - ) announces "Our Way, Your Way, Broadway!" a new all-showtune open mic series to be held on Tuesday nights from 9:30 pm to 12:30 am, starting on Tuesday, July 7th.

DON'T TELL MAMA is at the heart of New York Cabaret and the New York Theater district, the perfect location to celebrate the music of Broadway and film. Established in 1982, this venue carries on offering the joyous combination of live music, comedy and fine dining that epitomizes the best of New York Nightlife. After 27 years in the business, there is now even more cause for celebration!

The new series features the talents of the new restaurant, cabaret and piano bar staff and will be hosted by Dave Foley, Jr. & Mike Kirk with Joe Regan and Nate Buccieri at the piano.The weekly "Our Way, Your Way, Broadway!" events will be held in the larger, original cabaret room at the club. Audience members are invited to perform in the same spirit as the legendary DON'T TELL MAMA piano bar, which continues 7 nights a week. There will be no cover charge - only a 2 drink minimum (no credit cards).