In an age of globalism, cabaret is a fundamentally local art: a private concert in an intimate nightclub, where music and storytelling merge at close range. And no city offers as wide a range of thrilling cabaret artists as New York City, from Broadway and pop legends like Patti LuPone and Debbie Harry to outrageous downtown provocateurs like Bridget Everett and Taylor Mac, drag stars like Alaska and Dina Martina and world-class interpreters like Barb Jungr and Meow Meow. Here's where to find the best of them this week.
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Best Cabaret Shows in NYC This Week
A diminutive blond with a piercing, helium-tinged belt and a comic manner that harks back to great funny women of old, Chenoweth is the most distinctive musical-theater star to emerge in decades. She's also an Emmy-winning TV actor, an accomplished coloratura soprano and a first-rate concert performer. In this Broadway concert (and newest album), Chenoweth salutes some of the female artists who have inspired her, including Judy Garland, Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand and Patsy Cline.
At this deservedly popular event, impresario Scott Siegel gathers a new group of belters to prove that real theater singers don’t need body mics. Singing au naturel, these pros cut loose and let their glorious voices carry the day. The latest edition features Farah Alvin, Klea Blackhurst, Bill Daugherty, Johnm Easterlin, Ben Jones, Cooper Grodin, Maxine Linehan, William Michals, Brian Charles Rooney, Michael Winther and others.
The glamourous singer turned star of stage (Into the Woods) and screen (Ugly Betty) headlines a holiday benefit for the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture. Special guests include Leslie Kritzer, Norm Lewis, Michael Urie, Bernie Williams and—how's this for Christmas star power?—the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Michael Dolan.
Murtagh salutes the golden-voiced Italian-American operatic tenor Mario Lanza, the crossover star of MGM's The Great Caruso, who shone brightly and then burned out at the age of 38. Expect movie songs, opera and Neapolitan classics.
He’s worked with Liza Minnelli, Kylie Minogue and just about every downtown act in NYC. Now composer, pianist and performer Lance Horne hosts his own wild night of singing, drinking and dancing, strip-teasing and bad behavior at the East Village nightlife hub Club Cumming. Expect advanced show-tune geekery and appearances by Broadway stars looking to get down by the piano. Plan on sleeping in on Tuesday.
The baritone star of such shows as Ragtime and Man of La Mancha, Mitchell is one of Broadway's most accomplished leading men and has proved to be a suave and affable concert performer as well. His solo Feinstein's/54 Below show is a mix of holiday favorites and theater and jazz standards from his latest album, Plays with Music.
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 dance hall experience, this is where to find it. The November show is titled Swing Into Autumn.
After originating the web-singing title role in Broadway's ill-fated Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Carney has gone on to star as Dorian Gray in Penny Dreadful and has recently swung back onto Broadway as Orpheus in Hadestown. Now he brings his otherworldly tenor to the Green Room 42 with a solo show that includes some standards but focuses on original songs from his 2016 album, Youth Is Wasted.
Mosher is one of those talents you need to see to believe: warm, funny, biting, ferociously committed. In her weekly series at the downstairs Birdland Theater, she invites a gaggle of performers from Broadway and beyond to show their talents. Guests at the November 19 edition include Lesli Margherita, Anthony Fett, Jennifer Barnhart, Sidney Myer, Corey Brunish, Dave Hill, Sarah Rice, Hyuna Park, Amadis Dunke and musical director Brad Simmons.
If a night of jazz entertainment were still held up to the standards set by Ella, Billie and Sarah, San Francisco singer West might be the only contemporary vocalist worth the price of admission. Her full-bodied contralto is a thing of beauty, and it’s connected to an emotive intellect that makes the American Songbook speak to the future rather than the past.
Part cabaret, part piano bar and part social set, Cast Party offers a chance to hear rising and established talents step up to the microphone (backed by the slap and tickle of Steve Doyle on bass and Billy Stritch at the ivories, plus the bang of Daniel Glass on drums). The waggish Caruso presides as host.
One of musical theater's leading composers, Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, The Bridges of Madison County) combines insinuating heightened-pop melodies with intelligent lyrics. In his monthly series at SubCulture he flips through his own catalog, joined in August by guest vocalist Laura Benanti.
After a long stint in Broadway's Kinky Boots, Kirkwood takes center stage as Whitney Houston in a show that impressively re-creates the doomed diva's performances and concert banter. This special holiday edition includes "Do You Hear What I Hear" and other Yuletide favorites.
A Fabergé radical—beautiful, ridiculous and full of hidden tricks—the sublimely freakish Mac pilots audiences through fantastical journeys, guided by the compass of his magnetic individuality. In the culmination of a five-year project, the writer-performer recently surveyed the past 250 years of American music in a 24-hour marathon that was immediately hailed as a history-making event in and of itself. In this touring holiday show, with help from costume designer Machine Dazzle and music director Matt Ray, the 2017 MacArthur Fellow sleighs it with Christmas songs.
Thomas March curates and hosts this quarterly evening of poetry, storytelling and song. The theme for the December show is "Seasoned!"; the lineup includes poets Tyler Mills and Thoughtress, comedian Ashley Gavin and singers Jen Kwok and Kat Liz Kramer. Drew Wutke is at the keys.
Broadway by the Year impresario Scott Siegel curates this monthly concert series, in which Broadway stars sing some of the Great White Way's best-loved tunes. Performers at the October 26 edition include Martin Vidnovic, Brian Charles Rooney, Ben Jones andKelli Rabke.
You might mistake her for a lost rodeo clown, but superstar drag artist Dina Martina is a unique and hilarious genius. She blends the traditional elements of a drag show—singing (sort of), dancing (in a way), jokes and stories (stream of consciousness)—into an intoxicating cocktail of demented glee. Her annual Christmas show features "overburdened costumes" and accompanist Chris Jeffries. The Dina experience is hard to describe and even harder to forget. Don't miss out.
Vivacious comic songwriter Di Carlo, of the recurring Mad Men spoof The Mad World of Miss Hathaway, shares original and sometimes naughty songs in various styles in her monthly set. The December holiday editions feature Kyle Forester at the keys and a special appearance (on December 8) by Justin Elizabeth Sayre.
Imagine a musical remake of Saturday Night Fever set in 1970s Fire Island, and you'll get a sense of Anthony Fett's general vibe. A familiar figure in the West Village piano bar scene, this indefatigable showman makes the Yuletide gayer than ever in his annual holiday set.
Talented singers from the Broadway and cabaret worlds sing side by side in this tribute to the master of musical theater that has often featured former cast members of Sondheim shows. Guests at the June 30 episode include Sondheim alums Sarah Rice, Liz McCartney and Sally Mayes as well as Karen Mack, Keira Moynahan, Megan Moynahan, Kelli Rabke, Marta Sanders, Lucia Spina and Marquee Five.
Best known for his whiskey-voiced wedding-singer renditions of standards in the Father of the Bride films, Tyrell brings his mix of Texas and Vegas back to the Carlyle for his 14th straight year. This year's holiday set includes selections from his albums Back to Bacharach and A Song for You along with Great American Songbook standards, including his trademark tunes.