Jeff Coon will kick off the Arden Cabaret Series on December 11th | Photo by Frank Scott
I love a loud, splashy musical as much as anybody – but I really lost my heart to the cabaret. It, too, is a theater form – but a small, varied, and rather odd one, embracing a wide range of performance styles.
Most of the famous cabaret artists are singers, but even among them, styles differ. Some (Barbara Cook, for example) are powerhouse vocalists; others have more limited resources, but are master storytellers through song. (I’d put Mabel Mercer and Elaine Stritch in this category.)
The repertoire is similarly diverse. Cabaret includes artists who specialize in what we used to call the Great American Songbook – works by Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and more recently, Stephen Sondheim. Other performers venture into more contemporary, sometimes offbeat material.
But what I think all cabaret shares is a sense of intimate connection between artist and audience. The rooms are small, and there’s no fourth wall. No wonder it touches us in such a personal way.
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Photo by Laura Domela
After I posted a list of the “must-see” fall concerts, a friend of mine in San Francisco let me know about a big one I had missed: Singer Storm Large and her band Le Bonheur perform this Thursday to the Prince Theater’s Rrazz Room. My friend also sent a link to a video of her meltingly beautiful rendition of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Who was this 46-year-old, six-foot blonde, this crazy cocktail of open-heart, punk rage and mischievous stage banter? He also sent me a picture of the massive tattoo arcing across her back in big, gang-style letters saying, “Lover.” More on that later.
Portland-based Storm Large must have heard the phrase “Living Large” more times than she can stand, but her gypsy life has indeed been lived in capital letters. In her memoir, Crazy Enough (2012) — based on her one-woman show of the same title — she chronicles her early years in a family at the mercy of a mother suffering acute mental health problems. Large wondered if she, too, would become afflicted — one of her mother’s doctors told her it was inevitable (It wasn’t). After high school, she moved to New York and struggled her way through the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Later Large journeyed through hyper-sexuality and heroin addiction, all the while hanging on to her music like a lifeline. After Large ended up in Portland, where she and her rock band, The Balls, gained a significant following, she took a gamble with her credibility and became a contestant in 2006 on the reality CBS TV show Rock Star: Supernova. She didn’t win, but attracted a lot of enthusiastic attention. In 2010, Large began touring with Portland’s elegant, glamour lounge band, Pink Martini, while continuing with her solo career.
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Life is a cabaret, old chum.
No, Liza won’t be there, but a host of talented performers from Broadway and beyond will grace the Prince Theater’s cabaret space, the Rrazz Room, for a delectable season of song, dance, and plenty of entertainment. The Prince’s Rrazz Room is programmed by the same gurus who operate the famous Florida establishments of the same name, and the upcoming fall schedule has something for just about everyone. Read more »
Photo via Facebook
Martha Graham Cracker fans, get ready to get your fill of the city’s hairiest drag queen. The leggy chanteuse is performing all over the place this week—including a debut in the newly opened cabaret lounge at Franky Bradley’s—before she jets off to Louisville, Kentucky for a month with Pig Iron Theatre Company.
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The weekend of Valentine’s Day will be the official grand opening of the upstairs lounge and cabaret space at Mark Bee’s Franky Bradley’s. The upstairs will kick off with a cabaret hosted by Foxy Tann, the the Boss of Burlesque, on Friday, February 13th.
On Saturday, February 14th, the upstairs will host the official after-party of the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention. Admission is free with a convention wristband or handstamp. Sailor Jerry’s drinks will be on special for $5 all night. The lounge and cabaret is already busy booking events for the second half of February and into March. See all the events on Franky Bradley’s Facebook page.
Downstairs, the main dining room will add some Valentine’s Day specials to the menu.
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If you’re a vegetarian, like me, you don’t really look forward to the centerpiece on the big ole’ Turkey Day meal (but, I’d be willing to bet that you do overload on mashed potatoes and that green bean casserole thingie). Instead, you’re plotting out your Thanksgiving week, which is notorious for parties, events, and festivities that you simply can’t pass up (just like that cranberry sauce in a can). We here at G Philly came up with our best bets of everything going on in gay Philly during the week of Thanksgiving, broken up in a day-by-day, easy to follow guide. Consider it your recipe for a holiday well-done. Read more »
Candy Volcano | FringeArts
If you’re looking for cutting-edge live arts and experiences this fall, look no further than FringeArts. Its autumn lineup comes on the heels of a record-breaking 2014 Fringe Festival and includes performances at La Peg, the on-site restaurant and beer garden serving as a the cultural center of the Delaware waterfront.
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Philly drag amazon Martha Graham Cracker just posted an update on her Facebook page that this Sunday’s “The Martha Graham Cracker Not Very Christmasy Christmas Party” at L’etage will double as a fundraiser for Nick Forte, the 27-year-old man who was severely beaten in the Gayborhood on Nov. 10.
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Tonight Quince Productions founder Rich Rubin will present the third annual “A Very Quince Holiday Cabaret” at Tabu, an event to raise funds for the theater group’s 2014 season. Thirteen fab singers will congregate in the sports bar’s upstairs lounge to belt out some traditional holiday tunes, everything, Rubin tells me, from “from ‘Santa Baby’ and ‘River’ … to that old Carpenters favorite ‘Merry Christmas, Darling.'” On the performance roster is Quince alumni Carly Bodnar, Tyler Riley, Michael L. Medvidik and G Philly favorite Sean Thompson.
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Today’s Inquirer food section is brimming with… not much. Then again, we get a little punchy when there’s no Rick Nichols article.
If you’re trying to avoid rolling out of your Super Bowl party, you might find a reduced-calorie Super Bowl Game Plan enticing. Or, like us, you could just avoid it entirely.
Michael Klein has details on Cabaret, Neil Stein’s new venture in the former M space. Our take? It’s not what the Restaurant Yenta would have picked for the spot, but we’ll wait to see if Stein still has the magic touch. Also, lots of info on Manayunk openings.
Then there’s a profile of a supper club. The kind where you get together and prep and freeze meals for the week, not the glamorous kind.
Inquirer Food Section [philly.com]