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Heather Christian
Photograph: Courtesy Shervin Lainez Heather Christian

The ten best cabaret shows to snuggle up at on Valentine's Day

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Written by
Adam Feldman
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Valentine’s Day is a great time for music lovers, and especially for those who take advantage of one of New York’s great underrated assets: live cabaret shows, where classic songs from the past—from Great American Songbook standards to pop hits and Broadway favorites—get reinterpreted in intimate settings. Since so many of those songs are about romance, cabaret shows pop up around Valentine’s Day like flowers after a desert rain. Here are ten that will let you get up close and personal with some of NYC's best singers. (If cabaret isn’t your speed, check our our list of the best Valentine’s Day concerts in other genres.)

DYNAMIC DUOS
Love Bites: Best Duets Ever

Downtown stars team up to sing superhits like “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” “I Got You Babe” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” in this annual duets show, hosted by Cathy Cervenka and Corn Mo. Performers this year include Molly Pope, Angela Di Carlo, David Ilku, Brian Charles Rooney, Yana Chupenko, Daryl Glenn, Mardie Millit and Paul Leschen. (Joe’s Pub, Sunday 12 at 7pm; $15 plus $12 minimum.)

HEARTS FOR RENT
Seasons of Love

The Broadway Sings concert series veers from its usual pop content to offer a Valentine’s Day salute to Rent, featuring songs and anecdotes by alums of the show, including Richard H. Blake, Lexi Lawson, Nicholas Christopher, Corey Mach, Christina Sajous, Anwar Robinson, Jed Resnick and Marcus Paul James. (The Cutting Room, Sun 12 at 8pm; $30, VIP $65, plus $20 minimum.)

SOUL FOOD
Xavier: Ladies of Soul Tribute

In honor of the week’s high-pressure celebration of dating, soul singer Xavier is back with his annual homage to Aretha, Grace, Diana, Whitney and other ladies who need no last name. This year’s guests include Toshi Reagon, Abena Koomson, Justin Johnston, Bright Light Bright Light, Martha Redbone, Cassondra James, Nicki B and Anastacia McCleskey. (Joe’s Pub, Sun 12 at 9:30pm; $25, advance $20, plus $12 minimum.)

Xavier
Photograph: Courtesy Marc Baptiste

SIREN SONGS
Erin Sullivan: With Love, Marilyn

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, Sullivan performs a solo musical tribute to 1950s romantic-comedy star and breathy blond silver-screen sexpot Marilyn Monroe. Songs including “I Wanna Be Loved By You” and “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” are woven into anecdotes about Monroe’s busy dating life. (The Cutting Room, Mon 13 at 7, 9:30pm; $35–$50 plus $20 minimum.)

OLD SCHOOL
Joe Battaglia and the New York Big Band: Dining, Dancing and Romancing

The expansive Art Deco grandeur of the Edison Ballroom is the scene of this highly retro evening of dinner and swing music, courtesy of Battaglia and his brassy 16-piece crew. If you’re looking for a time-capsule New York Valentine’s Day, this is the place to find it. (Edison Ballroom, Tue 14 7:30pm; $100–$150 including dinner and open bar.)

TONGUES IN CHEEK
Salty Brine and Heather Christian: Baby Baby Baby Baby Oh Baby or, All I Know of Love

Singer-songwriter Christian has a haunting way with lyrics, an unforgettable voice that somehow bridges Carol Channing and Joanna Newsom, and a fascinating wise-waif presence. In this Valentine’s Day special, she joins hearts with outré showman Brine, whose Living Record Collection series is a continual source of astonishment, to pay loving tribute to the greatest hits of the Carpenters. (Pangea, Tue 14 at 7:30pm; $20 plus $20 minimum.)

Salty Brine
Photograph: Courtesy Daniel Albanese

BROADWAY TWOFERS
Love! I Hear!: Broadway’s Love Letter to Valentine’s Day

Real-life musical-theater couples share romantic tunes and personal stories in honor of Valentine’s Day. The singing pairs include Lee Roy Reams & Bob Donahue, Kinky Boots’s Amy Jo Jackson and Jeff Ronan, Miss Saigon’s Orville Mendoza and Brian Myers Cooper, Wicked’s Dan Gleason and Julia Freyer and Prospect Theater Company auteurs Pete Mills and Cara Reichel. (Feinstein’s/54 Below, Tue 14 at 7, 9:30pm; $40–$85 plus $25 minimum.)

COMIC RELIEF
Never Sleep Alone
Outrageous character actor and cabaret comic Roslyn Hart inhabits her alter ego, “sexual psychologist” Dr. Alex Schiller in this interactive bash. The doctor’s goal: getting the audience in the mood with a few choice tunes and making sure all of the single people in the audience hook up. Make sure you’ve made your bed before heading to Joe’s Pub, as you may bring a new friend home with you. (Joe’s Pub, Tue 14 at 9:30pm; $35–$45 plus $12 minimum.)

FLYING HIGH
John Lloyd Young: Here for You

The Tony-winning, falsetto-singing star of Jersey Boys, both the Broadway musical and the Clint Eastwood film, brings his musical highs and puppyish eyes back to the Café Carlyle with an all-new show. The Valentine's Day performance is especially fancy—and expensive. (Café Carlyle, Tue 14 at 8:45pm; $265–$315 including dinner and champagne.)

LOVE HANGOVER
Justin Vivian Bond: Late for Love
Done with V-Day? Let this alt-cabaret superstar and transgender icon mop up your Valentine’s Day tears. Caustic wit, witchy charisma and subversive queer wisdom have made Bond one of New York’s essential performers. (Joe’s Pub, Wed 15 at 9:30pm; $35 plus $12 minimum.)

Justin Vivian Bond
Photograph: Courtesy David Kimelman

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