What The Heck Am I Watching?!

Further to what Stephen Mosher has written for Broadway World (see our Spotlight bar to read), Cabaret Hotspot has been attending  several of these on-going shows and would like to report that while many of these shows are of a very high quality on the talent level, many shows suffer from a lack of production value due to the performer, perhaps, not having the right equipment and/or not knowing how to use this new equipment yet. And yes, there are still a lot of acts that are not worth your time. The biggest frustration is not being able to hear the singer or having the music cut in and out. Quality matters in what you’re putting out there people!

There is a huge learning curve that we are all experiencing but, let’s start with the good news. Should you want to see some shows that are getting it as right as they can, under these new circumstances, we can recommend the following: (Most of which are our Spotlights this week!)

Monday nights we have Richard Skipper Celebrates Blog Talk (5:00 pm) and Jim Caruso’s Pajama Cast Party (8:00 pm). Both shows and hosts know what they are doing. Both gentlemen have used or currently use a program called Streamyard which allows the host to have their guests wait in a “Green Room” until the time they are booked to appear. They have also used Facebook Live and YouTube. Richard acts as his own production team while Jim has an off-site producer who really helps line things up and keep things going so that Jim can focus on being the amazing host that he always is. Richard’s show is an interview/chat format whereas Jim interviews and presents live performances in his PJs we might add.

Tuesday night we have the recent return of Piano Bar Live (7:15 pm) hosted by Michael McAssey with a different all-star cast every week. Again, the producers of this series have it together and offer a great program with very high-level performances.

Nightly/Saturday #54Below@Home Series (6:30 pm) and The Magnolia Room Premiere Series (8:00 pm) both offer great pre-taped, high level video shows. 54 Below offers many very famous stars whereas Magnolia offers equally high-level talent but with lesser known names.  Both shows also offer a live interview with the stars they are featuring.

Wednesday afternoons Linda Lavin with Billy Stritch (3:00 pm) Due to the fact that Billy is playing live with Linda in the same room, these shows are very much like attending a regular cabaret show. Just charming! Grab your afternoon cup of coffee or tea and sit back and enjoy!

Thursday nights Billy’s Place Starring Billy Stritch (8:00 pm). Speaking of the wonderful Billy Stritch, again this comes as close as you can get to a great singer singing in a live piano bar only it’s from Billy’s home. Requests are taken and Billy interacts with his audience.

Friday afternoons Carly Ozard Sings! (2:00 pm). While the production value on these mini-living room concerts are what they are, Carly is singing to Karaoke Tracks with minimal lighting and with the music sometimes popping in and out, Carly’s powerhouse vocals make up for all of it. She also interacts with her viewers and takes requests.

Saturday night JayCee Driesen (8:00 pm) is another powerful singer who seems to know how to present a higher level at-home concert.

This week, on Saturday, May 30th she will be performing at 7:00 pm in “The Start of Something Big!” @ MetropolitanZoom.com

NOTE: Check out www.MetropolitanZoom.com for more high-level concerts that are being presented with the Metropolitan Zoom team producing these shows by offering to manage the production, again allowing the performer to just concentrate on doing an actual cabaret show.

Sunday Nights David Kenny of Everything Old is New Again (9:00 pm). David Kenny has been a long-time supporter of independent recording artists and a true friend to the Cabaret community He always presents an enjoyable radio show featuring huge named singers, an amazing theme, many cabaret artists’ CDs and even some up and comers! WBAI-99.5 fm radio at: www.penthouse.fm

Daily/Weekly One-Off Songs that continue to WOW are Tony DeSare, Jay Leonard, Mark Nadler and Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano. Each of these folks play for themselves and sing live with their own accompaniment. They will all make your day just a little bit brighter!

Some notable clips that are all professionally produced and so worth the time to watch:

Lina Koutrakos’ Advance Class “I Remember” video. This video had gotten over 4,200 hits!

Something the Advanced Performance Class and I put together (while we are working virtually) that I'm really proud of. A little Stephen Sondheim and a whole lot of quiet passion. Thinking we might all be able to relate. Credits, Tags and THANKS go to: Diane D'AngeloAudrey Appleby Mary Sue Daniels Sue Matsuki David Sabella Ann Talman Patrice McKinley Joanne Meltzer Halev Susan Stadlen Mack Patti Bottino-Bravo Fred Aiese Steve Sieck Katie Dunne McGrath Elvira Tortora David Sabella Rick Jensen Daryl Kojak Gregory Toroian. and a big thanks for editing and sound to Roger Lian

Posted by Lina Koutrakos on Wednesday, May 6, 2020


Michael Kirk Lane’s “I’m Going to Go Back There Some Day”
 video is a BEAUTIFUL tribute to all the people that he knows and hopes to see “back there” again at the Laurie Beechman Theater. Everyone in cabaret is in this video! It is so touching.

Michael Holland’s “The Old Days” video is a fun romp of one of Michael’s fantastic original pop tunes with many cabaret notables popping up on the screen! It is so much fun and it’s a great song!

HEY, ALL THE PEOPLE! As things tentatively start to get moving again, here comes another postcard from lockdown. Jenn Rose really knocked herself out on this one – as did Carl Carter, Thad DeBrock, and Don Kelly! Please to enjoy – and be careful in the weeks/months ahead. Stay safe and be smart, everybody! Or, y'know, be all stupid in my videos. Your choice.

Posted by Michael Holland on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

MAJOR PROPS go to our PICK OF THE WEEK Video:

Adam B. Shapiro & Janice Hall in “Stuck with Each Other” (Still A) Live from Shapiro Hall an interactive variety show which can be viewed on Adam and Janice’s Facebook pages and on YouTube now.

This was like watching a TV show. The production value and talent are so high it’s hard to believe they did this from home! THIS is the bar everyone should strive to achieve when putting their work out there. It all started with an incredible concept, a smart, funny postcard and finally the execution/production! Bravo/Brava!

STUCK WITH EACH OTHER- Janice Hall and Adam B. Shapiro (Still A)Live from Shapiro Hall

After almost three months of quarantining together in Astoria Queens, award-winning actors and singers Janice Hall and Adam B. Shapiro decided to get creative and create a taped special in the style of variety shows from the 1960s (Carol Burnett, Sonny and Cher, etc.) from the comfort of our own living room (combine our names and you get Shapiro Hall).

Posted by Adam B. Shapiro on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

This brings us to the “What in the heck am I watching?!” category!

Admittedly and understandably, many people do not have the money to buy all the sexy equipment that can help in creating shows with a higher production level or the time to learn all of this but, if we are going to have to sing like this for the time being, and for God knows how long, we must all take pride and care in what we are putting out there to represent our talent.

These clips will stay out there forever on the web! Are you showing yourselves and your talent in the best possible light? While “trolling” for shows to promote, Cabaret Hotspot came upon a gal whose voice is remarkable but all of her 20 one-song videos were so badly mastered that you cannot hear her singing. The music was too hot, and her mic level was too low. At least if the opposite were true, we’d hear her gorgeous voice. What’s the point of doing this?

However, what we do in Cabaret is more focused on lyric connection and authenticity so…with that said, doing your best and creating a production or a clip or a mini-set or show is fine with a somewhat lesser production value as long as you are singing great, we can hear you and you are being completely authentic in your delivery. Are you looking at your camera lens so that you translate as looking at us, your audience? AND can we actually see your face? Are you well lit? These are the basics of what must happen before you should ever consider posting anything representing your talent.

Someone who is doing this beautifully is Marissa Mulder. She is signing live with Jon Webber or Bill Zeffiro each from their own apartments and yet, they sync up which is not easy to do. Marissa’s connection to whatever she is singing is so pure it jumps right off the screen and into your heart. She looks at YOU. She makes you feel like every song that she is singing is being sung directly to you. It CAN be done. She often puts up a clip wearing no makeup and with her fabulous hair piled up on her head and it’s still stunning because it’s authentically Marissa. It should be noted though, she always takes care that her vocal quality remains exquisite.

Bob Dylan No make up One take. I miss doing my shows so much. I miss so many of my favorite faces. Sending you love today. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️And of course the brilliant Howard Gloucester on piano.

Posted by Marissa Mulder on Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Bottom Line? We are a forgiving group, especially now, but we must all put out the best work that we can using whatever equipment and knowledge we can acquire or afford to represent ourselves as the professionals we are striving to be.

Perhaps Bernie Furshpan and the folks at Metropolitan Zoom are on to something in how they are currently operating. When the clubs open and we can sing in the rooms again, even with social distancing regulations in place, perhaps incorporating an on-line ticket sales for Live Streaming is the way to go. But, the products put out there have to be worth the price of a ticket.

The truth is that most people do not consistently have 60-80 people in their rooms…it is more like 20-30 on average so financially to the singer, it’s the same deal really. Whether the clubs can afford to open if the bars are an issue is a whole other consideration. However, if we think about this, the income potential of a higher production level, live performance going out to your uncle in Florida or to the people we only know on Facebook or the whole Cabaret West group in California is now possible. There could be a greater earning potential. The clubs can take a portion of those ticket sales vs. getting money for cocktails to off-set the expense of having someone at the club organize the live streaming. There are ways to think outside of the box that we are going to have to consider. Hiring a production team or using a club as our producer is a real possibility going forward but again, the product we produce has to justify the price of a ticket.

Please take a few minutes to read David Sabella’s Quarter-Notes series here on Cabaret Hotspot. It will get you started and will help you  understand all the new technologies available in language most of us can actually understand.

Sue Matsuki
Dream it! Believe it! DO IT!