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Cabaret

Josephine Beavers Shines at Feinstein’s/54 Below

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If you ever worry that it’s too late to do what you want to do, look for inspiration to jazz vocalist Josephine Beavers, who will prove you wrong.  Ms. Beavers is a warm, classy, beautiful woman of a certain age, who has both a lively style, and a masterful control of her instrument.  In what was both her professional singing debut and her Feinstein’s/54 Below debut, this Chicago native showed that talent has no age limits.  

This appearance coincides with the belated release of her debut album, “Prime Time”, which was recorded 25 years ago with a full orchestra under the musical direction of her brilliant arranger, musical director, and pianist, Ed Vodicka, who still guides her today.  Mr. Vodicka, also a Chicago native who now divides his time professionally between New York and Los Angeles, is a free lance arranger, musical director and musician, equally at home as an accordionist and organist as he is an outstanding jazz pianist.  

Josephine Beavers Photo Jeffrey Lyle Segal

Ms. Beavers’ voice has grown a touch softer over the years, but remains smooth and clear, buoyed by a consummately professional style, which has not dimmed with time.   I have heard a lot of cabaret performances by older performers.  But few have kept their instrument in as good a shape as Ms. Beavers has done over the years.

Ed Vodicka Photo Jeffrey Lyle Segal

For this 54 Below show, Mr. Vodicka brought in four outstanding players: Tony Tedesco on drums, Steve LaSpina on bass, Glenn Drewes on trumpet and flugelhorn, and Lou Marini  on tenor sax, flute, and clarinet. Together they sounded like twice as big a group, thanks also to Mr. Vodicka’s superb big band style arrangements.  That wasn’t always good for Ms. Beavers, however, because the Studio 54 sound man often mixed her too far back, and seemed to be paying more attention to his phone than to the show. 

Josephine Beavers Photo Jeffrey Lyle Segal

Ms. Beavers’ story is a touching one.  She was married for 51 years to McDonald’s executive Bob Beavers before his death in 2014. She regularly sang on an amateur basis, and toured for a couple years as guest vocalist with the McDonalds’ All American High School Jazz Band. But mostly she chose simply to be a good corporate wife, rather than pursue a professional singing career. Only when her husband passed did she decide it was time to step into the spotlight herself.  

Josephine Beavers Photo Jeffrey Lyle Segal

Considering that she chose to debut professionally in the most competitive town for singers in the world, Ms. Beavers delivered the goods. She focused on a selection of American Songbook classics, including “Change Partners” (I. Berlin), “Night and Day”,  “What is this Thing Called Love”, and “In the Still of the Night” (C. Porter), “But Beautiful” (J. Van Heusen), “I’ve Got a Crush on You” and “S’wonderful” (G. & I. Gershwin), “Teach Me Tonight” (S. Cahn), “I’ll Be Seeing You” (I. Kahal), and “Where or When” (Rogers and Hart).  Mixed in were a few modern classics, “Lotta Livin’ to Do” (C. Strause, from Bye Bye Birdie), “Cry Me a River” (A. Hamilton), and “In the Still of the Night”  (F. Parris).   Every song was delivered with the polish and precision of an accomplished performer.

Admittedly, Ms. Beavers still has some things to learn about the art of cabaret.  She still needs to bring more of herself to the songs she sings and really channel the emotions of her material.  I am so accustomed to seeing musical theater performers doing their cabaret shows here, that something is missing for me when I don’t see the singer living as the character in the song.   Ms. Beavers also needs to create somepatter to transition between the songs, and let us know more of her personal story.  

But cabaret is a new world for her, and I’m sure she will layer these more intimate elements into her future shows.   Either way, I’m happy for her, and for her fans, that she is finally letting her own light shine.  

Jeffery Lyle Segal is a multifaceted theater artist who has worn many professional hats. He started as a musical theater performer in his teens. He attended Stanford U., Northwestern University, and SUNY at Binghamton to study acting, directing and dramatic literature. He also wrote theater reviews for The Stanford Daily and was Arts Editor of WNUR Radio at Northwestern. After college, he is proud to have been the first full time Executive Director of Chicago’s acclaimed Steppenwolf Theater Company. He left them to work as a theater actor and director. His special effects makeup skills got him into the movies, working on the seminal cult horror film, Re-Animator.He also did casting for several important Chicago projects, sometimes wearing both production hats, as he did on Chicago’s most famous independent movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. While living in Los Angeles, he joined the Academy for New Musical Theater, where he developed two book musicals as a composer, lyricist and librettist, Down to Earth Girl (formerly I Come for Love, NYMF 2008), and Scandalous Behavior! (York Developmental Reading Series 2010). He wrote, produced and performed his song “Forever Mine” as the end title theme of the horror film, Trapped! He also has written songs for his performances in cabaret over the years, and the time he spent pursuing country music in Nashville. Most recently he created a musical revue, Mating the Musical, for the Chicago Musical Theater Festival 2016. In NYC, he has attended the BMI musical theater writers’ workshop, and the Commercial Theater Institute 14 week producer program. He is currently creating a company to develop new musicals online. He still keeps up his makeup chops, working with top doctors in NYC and Chicago as one of the country’s most highly regarded permanent cosmetic artists (www.bestpermanentmakeup.com) and as a member of Chicago local IATSE 476. www.jefferylylesegal.com

Cabaret

Cabaret, Talks and Concerts For March

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Brave the rain and head out to the clubs for they abound in entertainment galore. Here are our top picks.

92 Street Y: 1395 Lexington Ave. 3/ 2 – 4: Soul Picnic: The Songs and Legacy of Laura Nyro; 3/ 11: Cabaret Conversations Sally Mayes and 3/18: The Ally: Josh Radnor and Playwright Itamar Moses in Conversation Co-presented with The Public Theater.

 

Karen Mason

Birdland Jazz: 315 West 44 St. Every Monday at 5:30 Vince Giordano and The Nighthawksand 9:30pm Jim Caruso’s Cast Party; Every Tuesday at 8:30pm The Lineup with Susie Mosher; 3/11: It’s De-Lovely: Jeff Harnar Sings Cole Porter and 3/25: Karen Mason In “Just In Styne: Karen Sings Jule”.

 

Orfeh

Cafe Carlyle: 35 E 76th St. 2/1-3: Through 3/2: Jennifer Holliday; 3/3 – 4: Mallory Portnoy and Nick Blaemire; 3/5 – 20: Hamilton Leithauser and 3/21 -23: Orfeh.

Steven Reineke by Michael Tammaro, Bryan Terrell Clark by Asher Angeles, Valisia LeKae by Antonio Navas

Carnegie Hall: 881 7th Ave at 57th St. 3/15: The New York Pops Hitsville: Celebrating Motown; 3/20: of Sinéad O’Connor and Shane MacGowan; 3/23: Meow, Meow and  3/27: Standard Time with Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein

Chelsea Table + Stage: Hilton Fashion District Hotel, 152 W 26th St. 3/10: Klea Blackhurst; 3/11: Mark MacKillop and 3/16: Randy Edelman.

Klea Blackhurst

Don’t Tell Mama: 343 W. 46 St. 3/3: Marcus Simone & Tracy Stark and 3/16: Lucille Carr-Kaffashan.

The DJango: 2 Avenue of the Americas.

Ann Hampton Callaway

Dizzys Club Coca Cola: Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street. 3/8 – 10: Ann Hampton Callaway and 3/21; Songbook Sundays Rodgers and Hammerstein.

54 Below: 254 West 54 St. 3/1: The Leading Lady Club: A Celebration of Women on Broadway and Beyond; 3/2 – 3 : Alysha Umphress: 15 Stories; 3/4: Songs From Women At The Table; 3/6: Hugh Panaro: Man Without A Mask; 3/8- 9: Christine Andreas: Paris to Broadway; 3/15 – 16: Melba Moore: From Broadway, With Love; 3/19: 54 Celebrates The Marquis Theatre, feat. Kate Baldwin, John Bolton, & more!; 3/20 – 21 and 23: Leslie Uggams; 3/22: My First Sondheim; 3/24: A Gentleman’s Guide 10th Anniversary Celebration, feat. Lauren Worsham & more!; 3/25: The Wicked Stage: Songs About Show Business, Hosted by Christine Pedi;  3/26 – 27:  Nicole Henry: Decades of Diva; 3/28: Ute Lemper: Rendezvous with Marlene and 3/29 – 30: Andrea McArdle: Confessions of a Broadway Baby.

Andrea McArdle

Andrea McArdle Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

The Green Room 42: 570 10th Ave. 3/4: Figaro a New Musical; 3/22: An Acoustic Evening with Sondheim & Melissa Melissa Errico; 3/23: Nic and Desi: 3/23: Joshua Turchin Composers In The Green Room 42 and 3/24: Reeve Carney.

Sony Hall: 235 W. 46th St.

Theatre at the West Bank Café: 407 West 42 St. 3/2,3, 9,10, 16, 17, 23,24, 30 and 31: Lucky Cheng’s Drag Brunch.The Triad: 158 W. 72 St. 3/16: Stay Golden – The Golden Girls Drag Tribute!The Town Hall: 123 West 43rd Street. 3/4: RuPaul The House Of Hidden Meanings

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Cabaret

Moonlight and Love Songs 

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And so promised Steve Ross in his new show at Birdland, and he delivered both with his customary style, wit, and superb interpretations. This fabled music room takes on the hush of a cathedral when Steve performs there, evidenced by the silent reverence of the audience throughout his performance. Sporting his subtle homage to Cole Porter—a red carnation—Steve began the evening with tunes that described being on the brink of that most coveted of falls, and as the inevitable approached, his carefully curated selections become more tantalizing. Never has “On a Slow Boat to China” been more inviting– sign me up now! A few moon-titled songs followed, including one written by Steve himself. His guest star, Nina Wachenfeld, sang in German and seemed to conjure up Marlene as a bonus.    

Kurt Weill and his haunting melodies were presented next, with appropriate tribute given to that great American wordsmith, Ogden Nash. Another aspect of the topic of the evening was Steve’s review of a few songs about love at first sight. Messrs, Coward and Porter put their two cents in, with the penultimate and heartbreaking “This Nearly Was Mine” putting a twinge in the heart of everyone as only Rodgers & Hammerstein can. Cole then did what he does best: teased and tickled the memory with his thoughts on the matter. 

Steve’s ability to find new ways to make all these songs new for an audience is part of his wonder. He snapped us out of our dreamy reveries with a joke and then the ever-hilarious “Dolphins” and then encouraged everyone to do what we were aching to do—sing along to some classics from the 1940s. He has an uncanny ability to know what an audience wants and needs and switched the dial to drama with Dietz and Schwartz’s haunting “Dancing in the Dark”.  The charming conclusion to this Valentine was the duet of “Married”. I have tried many times to dissect the magic Steve brings to his music and never quite capture it with words. You just must see it for yourself! A performance by Steve Ross is indeed transformative, as his ever-full audiences will attest.   

In between engagements on both sides of the Atlantic, Steve appears regularly at Birdland. Check his website for future appearances, and possibly even a master class! 

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Cabaret

My View: Carole J. Bufford…”You Don’t Know Me”. ( Now We Do)

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Her show is titled “You Don’t Own Me” and if anyone in the Palm Beach audience didn’t know Carole J. Bufford before, they certainly do now after her exciting performance last night at Cafe Centro.

Carole J. Bufford, award-winning cabaret star and powerhouse vocalist, returned to Cafe Centro last night with a tribute to the fearless, fabulous females of the 1960s. With the music made famous by Janis Joplin, Tina Turner, Carole King, Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Nancy Sinatra, Cher, and more, Carole and her quartet put their own inimitable spin on those great song classics in her show You Don’t Own Me. Her electrifying  musical tour de force celebrated a time of great change and transition in America and across the pond.

As Carole noted, the musical and cultural landscape was never the same after these bold and daring women planted their flags and ensured their voices were heard.  Well, Carole Bufford’s voice was authoritatively heard in West Palm Beach last night as she took charge of each song and brought the music of the 60’s back to life.  The moveable spot in the club illuminated this dynamic entertainer thrilling each table in a room filled with her Palm Beach fans.

Ms. Bufford’s good friend and co-producer of the evening Sandy Fisher introduced Carole to the enthusiastic Cafe Centro audience.

Next up in the Fisher/Sorokoff Cabaret series is Dawn Derrow on March 12, and on April 24th one of the hottest acts in show business “The New Belters” Seth Sikes & Nicolas King will be bringing their music to  Cafe Centro.

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

HERE’S CAROLE!

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

CAROLE J. BUFFORD & SANFORD FISHER

STEPHEN SOROKOFF & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

EDA SOROKOFF, GIO MOLLA, RON ABEL, SANFORD FISHER

ROB RUSSELL, CAROLE J. BUFFORD, RON ABEL

DAWN DEROW & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

JEFF LEIBOWITZ & ROB RUSSELL

SANFORD FISHER & ISANNE FISHER

PETER CALO

CAFE CENTRO

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Cabaret

Sex and the City’s Candace Bushnell Returns to Café Carlyle

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Iconic author and creator of “Sex and the City” returns to Café Carlyle with her new one-woman show titled “True Tales of Sex, Success and “Sex and the City”, April 23 – 27. Across five performances, the original Carrie Bradshaw takes us on a whirlwind tour of New York City, from Studio 54 to “Sex and the City” to “Lipstick Jungle” and beyond, sharing her remarkable philosophy through stories of fashion, literature, and sex while pouring Cosmos in Manolos.

Candace Bushnell is the critically acclaimed, international best-selling author of ten books, including Is There Still Sex in the City, Sex and the City, Summer and the City, The Carrie Diaries, One Fifth Avenue, Lipstick Jungle, Trading Up, Killing Monica and Four Blondes. With each book, she has deepened her range, but with a light touch that makes her complex literary accomplishments look easy. In August of 2021, Sex and the City, published in 1996, celebrated its 25th anniversary. The book was the basis for the HBO hit series and two subsequent blockbuster movies. Lipstick Jungle became a popular television series on NBC, as did The Carrie Diarieson the CW.

Through her books and television series, Bushnell’s work has influenced and defined more than two generations of women. She is the winner of the 2006 Matrix Award for books (other winners include Joan Didion and Amy Tan), and a recipient of the Albert Einstein Spirit of Achievement Award. Bushnell’s work has famously appeared in Vogue, Esquire, The New York Observer and many other publications.

Her successful one-woman show premiered at the legendary Bucks County Playhouse then moved to off-Broadway at the Daryl Roth Theater in 2021 to rave reviews. Bushnell’s show success has taken her to the UK, before returning to where it all began in New York City.

Notably characterized by First Night Magazine as “an evening of pure joy and entertainment” and “a celebration of Candance Bushnell’s career and the importance and beauty of being a modern, independent woman” by Theatre & Tonic, Candance Bushnell’s “True Tales of Sex, Success and Sex and the City” is a chance to see the woman who started it all in the flesh.

Tickets are available online via Tock— General Seating $150 per person / Premium Seating $200 / Bar Seating $110.

Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue).

For more information and updates on these exciting events, follow Café Carlyle on Instagram @cafecarlyle and Facebook.

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Cabaret

Amber Gray, Tony Yazbeck, Robert Klein, Julie Gold and More Win The Bistro Awards

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Bistro and MAC Award-winning artist Steve Hayes serves as host for the evening. He is a comedian-actor-writer and the host—for 15 years—of YouTube’s hit show Steve Hayes: Tired Old Queen at the Movies.

Writer and critic Gerry Geddes, longtime Bistro Award Committee member and senior contributor, as well as an award-winning director, is set to helm the Bistro Awards for the third time.

Truly a comedian’s comedian, Robert Klein will be presented with the Bistro Award’s top honor, the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award, for his six decade-plus career as an innovative and influential stand-up comedian—a career augmented with his extensive work as an actor in theatre, film, and television. He has been a source of inspiration for such talents as Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, and Jay Leno, among many others.

Julie Gold will be honored with a special award asIconic Singer-Songwriter-Raconteur. She has been a fixture in New York City’s cabaret community for over three decades. Gold seamlessly blends her melodies with incisive lyrics—then presents her songs to her listeners with grace and nuance.

The committee celebrates Amber Gray with an award for Creative Artistry in a Cabaret Debut. Brimming with talent, wisdom, and emotion, her show Gray Matter was a uniquely personal introduction to the cabaret world.

Tony Yazbeck is receiving an award as Song & Dance Performer. His shows at 54 Below showcased his ability to adapt the energy, heart, and artistry of Broadway performance to an intimate space. Yazbeck’s charisma and versatility made for an extraordinary evening.

In 2023, Karen Mack put her considerable performance and songwriting talent on full display in an array of venues and shows—in solo presentations, in her ongoing jazz/swing series with Elliot Roth, and as part of the vocal group Those Girls. Whatever the occasion, she was a constant delight. The committee honors her for her excellence in a Variety of Cabaret Performances.

A Bistro goes to two singers who created shows paying tribute to legendary songwriters. Wendy Scherl receives her award for Tribute Show. In The Sweetness and the Sorrow: The Songs of Marvin Hamlisch, sheexplored the late composer’s biography with great heart, complementing it with stories from her own life. She performed some of Hamlisch’s most beloved songs as well as some of his lesser-known titles. Jason Henderson receives recognition as Musical Comedy Performer. He impressively harnessed his singing and comedic talents for his show Getting to Noël You—effectively using the songbook of Noël Coward to help tell his own story ofmaking ends meet while pursuing his dream of becoming a performer.

In the Vocalist category, Margaret Curry garners an award for her outstanding artistry. She brought her admirable singing and acting skills to her show The Space In-Between. Drawing the audience into her sphere, she shared a deeper look at life through her carefully selected, beautifully and uniquely arranged songs.

The committee will honor two shows that took an autobiographical approach. Roberto Araujo receives the Autobiographical Show honor for his exuberant show I Just Wanted You to Know. He treated audiences to a sparkling, multimedia-style evening— focused specifically on his own life and career, yet displaying a remarkable, universal appeal. Elvira Tortora’s The Bookmaker’s Daughter is a well-told personal tale about a family like no other, beautifully enhanced with savvily selected songs. The show earns this newcomer to the cabaret scene an award for Musical Memoir.

Lisa Vroman’s show Ingénue…Ingé-Not-So-New delivered a constantly surprising and engaging collection of songs, acted and sung with passion, humor, finesse, and top-tier musicality. She will receive an award for Theatrical Cabaret.

David Dean Bottrell will take home an award for Storyteller. His shows reveal him to be a frank and fearless comedic monologist, unafraid to set aside humor at moments, in order to plumb the depths of human experience.

With her recording Permanent Moonlight: Songs of Richard Rodney Bennett, Maud Hixson pays tribute to an icon of the music industry. Showcasing her impeccable vocal talents and her sensitive interpretation of lyrics, the album earns Hixson an awardfor her excellence in Recording.

Linda Kahn likewise receives an honor for Recording, for her outstanding album Wait Til You See Whats Next. This collection not only demonstrates her stunning singing talent, but it also shines a light on some of New York’s finest songwriters and musicians.

The evening’s musicians include the award show’s resident maestro, Musical Director Daryl Kojak (piano), along with longtime Bistro Awards musicians Ritt Henn (bass) and Rex Benincasa (drums).

Sherry Eaker, formerly the longtime Editor-in Chief of Back Stage, has produced the event since its inception in 1985. Eaker heads up the BistroAwards.com roster of writers and critics. Mark Dundas Wood, who has been part of the Bistro Awards committee since 2012 and who writes regularly for BistroAwards.com,serves as an associate producer of the show for the third time. Mary Lahti, who has been production assistant on the show for the past four years, is assistant producer.

The gala event will be held on Monday, April 1, at 7:00 pm, at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd Street, in Manhattan. Tickets range from $75.00 to $275.00. Ticket buyers in all categories are invited to the Bistro After Party as guests of the Bistro Awards. For details about the various ticket categories and early-purchase prices, visit www.BistroAwards.com.

Following is a complete list of artists whom, we believe, attained Outstanding Achievement during 2023 and/or for their body of work:

Robert Klein / Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award

Julie Gold / Iconic Singer-Songwriter-Raconteur

Amber Gray / Creative Artistry in a Cabaret Debut (Gray Matter) 

Tony Yazbeck / Song & Dance Performer

Karen Mack / Variety of Cabaret Appearances

Margaret Curry / Vocalist (The Space In-Between)

Wendy Scherl / Tribute Show (The Sweetness and the Sorrow: The Songs of Marvin Hamlisch)

Elvira Tortora / Musical Memoir (The Bookmaker’s Daughter)

Roberto Araujo / Autobiographical Show (I Just Wanted You to Know)

Lisa Vroman / Theatrical Cabaret (Ingénue…Ingé-Not-So-New)

David Dean Bottrell / Storyteller

Jason Henderson / Musical Comedy Performer (Getting to Noël You)

Maud Hixson / Recording (Permanent Moonlight: Songs of Richard Rodney Bennett)

Linda Kahn / Recording (Wait ’Til You See What’s Next)

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