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The best (and worst) cabaret of 2012

Protean peacock Taylor Mac topped our tally of New York cabaret's finest hours

Photograph and makeup: Derrick Little

Taylor Mac

Photograph: Andy Kropa / Getty Images

Patti LuPone: Far Away Places at 54 Below

Photograph: Thom Kaine

Sherie Rene Scott


Justin Vivian Bond

Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

Bridget Everett

Photograph: Gor Megaera

Maude Maggart

Photograph by Kit Kittle

Christine Ebersole


Norbert Leo Butz

Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

Cole Escola

Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

Molly Pope


Our Hit Parade


The best

Taylor Mac

Ragingly original and bracingly radical, Mac took audiences on wild trips to previously unimagined destinations.

Patti LuPone: Far Away Places

Broadway’s reigning diva, gutsy and glorious, christened the fabulous new 54 Below with a smashing set.

Sherie Rene Scott: A Piece of Meat

Scott sliced her midtown star power with downtown edge in a witty and insightful metacabaret triumph.

Justin Vivian Bond

Heir to and investor in the Weimar and Warhol traditions, NYC’s great trans shaman commanded fascination.

Bridget Everett

A blond grenade of alt cabaret, Everett exploded in blasts of rock and raunch, clearing new paths wherever she went.

Maude Maggart: Into the Garden

The ethereal chanteuse explored the American Songbook to cultivate blooms that were all her own.

Christine Ebersole: The End of the World as We Know It

Cabaret Ebersole popped and bubbled like a dry champagne in the chameleonic entertainer’s latest Carlyle bash.

Norbert Leo Butz

One of musical theater’s most magnetic stars cast bluesy, puckish magic in his expert nightclub debut.

Cole Escola

The boyish spark plug’s unique mix of irony, tragedy, pluck and pizzazz made him the best gamin in town.

Molly Pope

Pope belted her heart out, then had the guts to wear it on the patterned sleeves of her delightfully retro getups.

The worst

Our Hit Parade ended its madcap march

The seminal Joe’s Pub neocabaret showcase and performance hub—hosted monthly by Kenny Mellman, Neal Medlyn and Bridget Everett—called it quits in December, going out in a fabulous Viking-ship blaze of laughter, tears and unfettered excess.