KJ McElrath Nominated For A PAMTA Award For Musical Direction!

 

 

Happy June, everyone!  We’ve had a very busy spring, and in the beginning stages of rehearsals for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Portland Actors Ensemble’s summer touring production, in which KJ and I are both performing.

 

Today we learned the happy news that KJ has been nominated for a PAMTA Award for Musical Direction for Flash–Ah-AHH!  The PAMTAs stand for Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards, and are given out every June for outstanding participation in local musical theatre productions.

 

The awards ceremony will be on June 23rd at the Winningstad Theatre in Portland, OR, starting at 7pm.

 

For more information about the PAMTAs.

 

Yay and congratulations, K. J.!

 

 You can always leave us a message or just stop in and say Hi down in the comments.

 

If you like this post, you can Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog via email or RSS–thank you!  

 

We are now also on LinkedIn–which has a Cabaret group you should join (!)–and Google+.  You can connect with us there as well.

 

We appreciate your support!

Till next time,

 

 

 

 

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And Now For Something Completely Different . . . Flash! Ahh–Ahh! A Rock and Roll Parody of Flash Gordon

(Color poster for our upcoming Flash Gordon Show–artwork by Scott Roller.)

 

Hello everyone, and a Happy New Year to all!  We had a great time over the holidays, and performed our cabaret show at both public and private events throughout the winter holidays and through New Years.

 

Now, however, we are taking the plunge into what is normally, for us at least, foreign territory, and that is a brief sojourn into rock and roll.  Not just any rock and roll, though–instead, we are hard at work on a parody of the 1980s film cult classic Flash Gordon, which features the music of the rock group Queen!  Our band for our production is comprised of fine young musicians from the local School of Rock.  KJ wrote the vocal arrangements for the show, and I am acting, singing and dancing my way through 12 of Queen’s big hits.

 

We have an invited Preview on Monday, Feb. 10th, and then the show opens to the public on Thursday, Feb. 13th, and runs Thursdays-Saturdays Feb. 13-March 1st, with all shows at 7pm.  If you are in the Portland, Oregon area, please come on down to the Funhouse Lounge and join us for a little sci-fi fun!  I play several smaller parts, including a citizen of Earth, a stewardess, one of Ming’s guards, a Hawk person, a Forest person, Concubine #1 and a Priest!  (Needless to say, when I’m not on stage I’m changing costumes backstage :)  Such a fun and talented cast–we can’t wait to share it all with you!

 

Here is a preview of the show that just came out in Portland Stage Reviews, written by Sabrina Miller:

 

From the Company that brought you “Varsity Cheerleader Werewolves LIVE From Outer Space,” and “The LIVE Adventures of Dex Dixon, Paranormal Dick” comes….

FLASH AH-AHHH!!
A ROCK N ROLL PARODY OF “FLASH GORDON”

In April 2013 “Varsity Cheerleader Werewolves LIVE From Outer Space” received glowing reviews and played to sold out audiences at The Funhouse Lounge. We followed that with the critically successful film noir musical cabaret “The Adventures of Dex Dixon: Paranormal Dick.” In that same tradition, we offer up one of the 80s most iconic films “Flash Gordon” presented as only Stage Works Ink can… come see what Director, Steve Coker (called, “the Orson Welles of overblown, underproduced comic meta-spectacles…” by Jay Horton of the Willamette Weekly) does with this comedy gold mine and sing along with the talented cast as they sing 12 songs from QUEEN!

The show has a live rock band featuring some of Oregon’s finest musicians from The School of Rock! These teens shred, melt faces, and know their Queen!

RUN INFORMATION

WHO:
StageWorks Ink – The Fringe on Fringe Theatre!

WHAT:
“”FLASH AH-AHHHH!!”

WHERE:
The Funhouse Lounge: 2432 SE 11th Ave. Portland, OR 97214

WHEN:
February 13th, *14th, 15th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 27th, 28th, and March 1st 2014

Tickets are $10.00 in advance or $12.00 at the door on Thursdays.
$12.00 in advance or $15.00 at the door on Fridays and Saturdays.

*FEB 14th, $2.00 of every ticket sold will be donated to the Equality in Marriage movement!

Curtain Times: All shows 7:00pm curtain.

f9aeee_9299a422dd161fb9ca4811b640deb5eb.png_srz_182_75_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Tickets Available at the door or online throughwww.brownpapertickets.com

THE SHOW:
FLASH A-AHHHH!
When the Earth is threatened with destruction by the planet Mongo, Flash Gordon, New York Jets football hero, and his high school sweetheart, Dale Arden are shanghaied aboard Dr. Hans Zarkov’s rocket ship in an attempt to save the planet by appealing to Mongo’s Emperor, Ming the Merciless. But Ming has other plans, and decides to wed Dale before destroying the Earth. Flash must avoid the amorous advances of Ming’s daughter, Aura and unite the warring kingdoms of Mongo to over throw Ming to save his love and his planet… And he only has 14 hours to do it all!!!

Added to the show are 12 iconic rock songs by Queen performed by our cast: 
Flash Theme, These Are the Days of Our Lives, A Kind of Magic, We Will Rock You, Slightly Mad, One Vision, I Want to Break Free, Hammer to Fall, The Show Must Go On… and many others!

The All Star Cast Includes:
Illya Torres, Tasha Danner (Former Mousekateer season 4&5), Jonathan Hall, Sean Ryan Lamb, Ithica Tell, Alexandra Blatt, Brian Koch (Drummer for band Blitzen Trapper), Steve Coker, Jake Sauvageau, Athena McElrath, Amanda Healy and Matt Workman.

The School of Rock Band features:
Zach Holden, Max McCargar, Jack Mortensen, Connor Johnson, Asher Marlin

LINKS:
StageWorks Ink: http://www.stageworksink.com/#!varsity/cee5

 

We’d love to see you there!  You can always check out our links at the top of our page for a wide variety of archived articles about cabaret–what it is and how to do it, as well as a listing of our upcoming performances.  Thanks for reading!

 

 Do you enjoy musical parodies?   I’d love to hear about it down in the comments, so feel free to stop by and say hi!

 

If you like this post, you can Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog via email or RSS–thank you!  

 

We are now also on LinkedIn–which has a Cabaret group you should join (!)–and Google+.  You can connect with us there as well.

 

We appreciate your support!

Till next time,

 

 

 

 

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Happy Holidays and Show Information

 

Hello everyone–KJ and I would like to wish you all very Happy Holidays!  Here’s KJ’s version of O Tannenbaum, which was published by Kjos Music a few years ago, and professionally recorded–enjoy!

We’ve been busy with theatre activities, and just taking in a lot of shows recently, as well as getting ready for an upcoming New Year’s Eve gig, which have all been fun.

 

I received information about a couple of upcoming shows featuring Portland’s Storm Large as well as The King’s Singers that might be of interest to you, so thought I would let you know about it.  This note came to us from Jeremy from a NYC club called SubCulture:

 

I enjoyed talking with you guys on the phone! Thanks for taking the time to hear about SubCulture and our upcoming cabaret shows.

 

As I mentioned, I wanted to introduce you to SubCulture; a new performing arts space in NoHo (NYC). We’re excited to host two cabaret influenced shows in January that I thought could be of interest to your readers.

 

On the 29th SubCulture will host Grammy® Award-winning vocal ensemble, The King’s Singers and their homage to The Great American Songbook! Performing favorites by Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and more, this will be an exciting intimate performance for this acclaimed A Capella ensemble. I’ve attached the press release for additional information.

 

On January 14th, Storm Large – of Pink Martini fame – will perform a solo gig during APAP, showcasing her incredible skill as an actor, singer, and playwright. Having sold out shows 21 weeks in a row for autobiographical musical memoir, Crazy Enough (which made Oprah’s Book of the Week list), and chops that range from a rocker to a soprano, this will be a show that will entertain every taste.

 

www.subculturenewyork.com

 

Tuesday, January 14An Evening with Storm Large

Described as “sensational” by the New York Times, Storm Large will grace the SubCulture stage with the unique talent and charm that stole the hearts of curious listeners and converted them into dedicated fans. Storm was a finalist on the CBS reality show Rock Star: Supernova in 2006 and made her debut as a guest vocalist with the band Pink Martini in 2011, gaining her national and international exposure. In addition to sold-out concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and performing at Carnegie Hall, she went on to release a musical memoir, Crazy Enough, which was named Oprah’s Book of the Week and awarded the 2013 Oregon Book Award for Creative Non-Fiction. On January 14th, witness her creative genius in a live performance in New York.

http://stormlarge.com/ | Tix: $25 in advance and at the door

 

Wednesday, January 29thThe King’s Singers

The internationally renowned, Grammy® Award-winning A Cappella vocal ensemble, The King’s Singers, have not only traveled the world, but they’ve won its heart. Their incredible intonation, vocal blend, perfect articulation, and entertaining persona earned them a place in the world of entertainment and academia. The King’s Singers are bringing back the essence of New York with sophisticated arrangements of The Great American Songbook, including their favorite tunes by Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and many others for their intimate performance at SubCulture. At the rate that these guys are touring the world, it is best to catch them while you can.

http://www.kingssingers.com/ | Tix: $50 in advance / $60 at the door

The King’s Singers Fall in Love with the Great American Songbook at SubCulture

It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely… The King’s Singers perform the Great American Songbook at SubCulture (45 Bleecker Street, Downstairs, New York, NY 10012) on January 29th, 2014 at 7pm.

The beloved Grammy® Award-winning a cappella vocal ensemble offers up sunny, sophisticated arrangements of their favorite tunes by Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and many others at SubCulture. This innovative, intimate venue is the perfect showcase for this incredible program, which is sure to give you “the sudden urge to sing the kind of ditty that invokes spring.”

This new program, derived from their brand new record of the same name (released on Signum Records earlier this fall), is sure to capture the hearts of New York audiences. These tunes bring back the golden days of New York City at its finest, and SubCulture creates an intimate space to hear stunning arrangements of My Funny Valentine, Cry Me A River, and more.

Adored the world over for their superlative musicianship, wide-ranging repertoire and contagious charisma, The King’s Singers plunge heart-and-soul into the vast collection of early-20th-century American songs on their newest recording, Great American Songbook. The British sextet’s deep respect and love for this music is apparent from the opening track, with Jonathan Howard’s walking bass anchoring the Coleman/Leigh classic The Best is Yet to Come, through the viscous, bittersweet change from major to minor on Cole Porter’s wistful Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.

For baritone Christopher Gabbitas, these songs, written during a golden era of American songwriting (mostly for stage and screen), belong in the same category as German lieder or French chansons. “These songs were written by classically-trained composers and they endure because of their exceptional integrity,” says Gabbitas. “The beautifully crafted nature of these songs make them classics already. They have the weight of history and form a journey through the emergence of a nation through its pop culture.”

Considering the depth and breadth of the source material, song selection for this program was no easy task. The final list features 17 well-known tunes, songs that the Singers “utterly loved.” They are heard in stunning new arrangements by the fast rising British jazz composer and bassist Alexander L’Estrange. L’Estrange’s harmonically colorful re-workings of these standards maintain the integrity of the source material while reflecting The King’s Singers hallmark blend and wit. The result is a recording where the ensemble is able to luxuriate in the emotional harmonies ofWhen I Fall in Love as well as bring their distinctly British sense of humor to a daffy rendition of Let’s Misbehave. 

The group recruited a pair of a cappella gurus, Bill Hare (The Voice, Street Corner Symphony) and Danny Ozment (NBC’s The Sing Off) to create one of the group’s most ambitious and innovative recordings to date. After bringing the songs up to performance standard together, each piece was then deconstructed and recorded part-by-part, resulting in a sparkling, modern sound that offers a 21st-century counterpoint to The King’s Singers first mannered recordings of other American standards in the 1970s on top-selling albums such as Swing and Out of the Blue. A second bonus disc offers yet another twist on the material with orchestral versions of 8 tracks, recorded with the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra and featuring orchestrations by Jonathan Rathbone.

The result of these fruitful collaborations is an immensely satisfying and joyful program and recording that makes us feel as if we are rediscovering this truly great music again for the first time. The King’s Singers will be performing these songs live this fall and winter across Europe and the U.S. and tickets are already selling swiftly in anticipation of this major recording that will surely endure as one of The King’s Singers best.

The King’s Singers

David Hurley, countertenor

Timothy Wayne-Wright, countertenor

Paul Phoenix, tenor

Christopher Bruerton, baritone

Christopher Gabbitas, baritone

Jonathan Howard, bass

www.kingssingers.com

 

The Grammy Award-winning King’s Singers are one of the world’s most beloved choral ensembles, famous for their top-notch musicianship, impressive diversity of repertoire, innovative arrangements and utterly charming stage presence. They have appeared in top concert halls across the world, as well as major televised events such as the 2008 Winter Olympics and the BBC Proms. No strangers to the recording studio, they have released an impressive 150 albums.

 

 

For media inquiries:

Amanda Sweet/Bucklesweet Media 347/564-3371 orAmanda@bucklesweetmedia.com

 

 

That’s it!  Hope you have a great holiday–you can always check out our links at the top of our page for a wide variety of archived articles about cabaret–what it is and how to do it.  Thanks for reading!

 

 Are you catching any live music this holiday season?   I’d love to hear about it down in the comments, so feel free to stop by and say hi!

 

If you like this post, you can Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog via email or RSS–thank you!  

 

We are now also on LinkedIn–which has a Cabaret group you should join (!)–and Google+.  You can connect with us there as well.

We appreciate your support!

Till next time,

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Fun At The Portland Ragtime Piano Society Open Mic!

 

If you happen to be in the Portland, Oregon area, on the first Sunday afternoon of every month there is a wonderful free event, and that is the Portland Ragtime Piano Society Open Mic.  Held at Elevated Coffee, 5261 NE MLK Jr. Blvd., the intimate venue features a wonderful white baby grand piano, chandeliers, and delicious assortment of reasonably priced foods and beverages.  The open mic is held from 3-6pm.

 

Whomever shows up can play a couple of ragtime-era selections, and sing if they wish.  There’s always at least three or four pianists there, so you end up with an interesting mix of musical selections.  I always am introduced to a song I’ve never heard before!  This time we selected songs a little later than ragtime period, but still fine to do here.  KJ chose to play several early Cole Porter selections, and a few rags.  I sang Jelly Roll Morton’s “I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling” from the Broadway musical Ain’t Misbehavin’.  We’ve also sung early Jerome Kern in the past as well.

 

We have been several times, and always enjoyed it.  It’s also been fun to look up songs that were written in the ragtime era, so that we can perform them here.

 

The next Ragtime Piano Society open mic will be at Elevated Coffee on Sunday, November 3, 2013, from 3-6pm–hope to see you there!

 

And here is Cole Porter himself singing his wonderful “Anything Goes.”

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What We’ve Been Up To This Summer–Shakespeare!

This is a post I wrote today for my gardening blog, Minerva’s Garden, and I thought I’d repost it here for your enjoyment as well!

 

Hiya everone!  It’s been a little hit or miss around here with me with posting for a while, but I thought I’d show you why.

 

We’ve been working on a production of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, one of The Bard’s later romances, which our director, the wonderful Douglas Lay, has cleverly turned into a rollicking, over-the-top comedy!  We play outdoors in the parks throughout Portland, Oregon, every weekend starting July 20th and through Labor Day weekend.  (If you are in the area and would like to see it, check out Portland Actors Ensemble for locations, times, dates and more information, and say hi after the show–I’d love to see you!)

 

A very nice audience member, Garry Louie, took some wonderful pictures of the show during our performance at Laurelhurst Park last weekend, so I’d like to share some of those with you.  All of these pictures today come from his Facebook page link as the source.

 

I play two male characters–Pisanio, the servant in the King’s court in Britain, and Caius Lucius, who is a Roman general who eventually wages war against Britain.  The pictures below are all of Pisanio and other of our great cast members.

 

 

Our costume designer, Sherry Ostendorf, is really amazing and did a fantastic job on all of our Renaissance-era costumes.  I’m the one in the center in the brown and yellow, and although I play a servant, I am kind of a dandy in my appearance, with Lord Byron-style hair–he is a servant in the court of the King, after all.  We all play multiple roles, and so each of us has more than one costume that Sherry provided for us–wow!  The costumes are made out of heavy fabrics, so that they not only look great but will also last through the wear and tear they will get over our eight-week run of the play.  They are very warm, we do a lot of running around in this play, and we are performing outdoors in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of a hot summer, so we are drinking lots of water backstage in between our scenes!  We set up two big tents, and that is our backstage area–you can just see the corner of one in this picture.

 

 

There is my wonderful hubby, KJ, playing accordion as well as piano for the show, and myself singing away!  (Check out my gigantic codpiece–it’s roomy enough to hide all kinds of props in there!  I think this might have to be our Christmas card photo this year:)   This is a very musical play–we all sing songs, some original ones that KJ wrote especially for this production, and he provides wonderful background music to the action of the story–yay, KJ!  He is the best at writing witty lyrics and for being able to watch the action going on onstage and coming up with the perfect score off the top of his head that matches the action we’re doing.

 

 

The lady who plays our wicked Queen, Lauren Modica, is a riot onstage and off–you’ll never guess what she just told me here :)  I love working with her–she always makes me laugh, although here she is scaring the crap out of me–that’s the kind of relationship that Pisanio has with the British king and queen in this play.

 

 

The talented actor who plays Princess Imogen, our female lead in the play, Sarah Jane Fridlich, and I have several scenes together.  Here I am about to tell her my cunning plan to help her survive and thrive after she has been imprisoned by her father the King for marrying the wrong man, and she runs away from home.  By this point in the play, Pisanio is her servant and buddy who is always trying to help her out.

 

 

Here I am doing my Act 3 scene 2 monologue–I see that I often have my mouth wide open in these pictures– there is a reason for that  1–My character likes to talk and 2–We are performing outdoors, and you have to really project so that everyone can hear you :)  Here, my master, Posthumus, has just told me in this letter I’m reading that I have to do something that I really don’t want to do, and I’m reacting to that bad news.

 

 

There is KJ at the piano, in this case a battery-operated keyboard–remember, we are playing outdoors in parks where there is no electricity!  Isn’t the piano cover cool–a while back we went thrifting and I found a free dresser that was missing a drawer, so I was thinking about pulling out the remaining drawers and putting baskets in on the shelves instead, so we had this extra dresser drawer hanging around in the garage and it was a perfect fit for the keyboard!  it helps to hide the electronics and makes it all look a little more in keeping with the period of the play.  In this scene, the king’s sons, who were stolen as babies by Belarius, a former servant to the King, but who are now grown, all circle around Imogen’s male counterpart she plays, called Fidele, who is thought dead in this scene (don’t worry–our play has a very happy ending!)

 

 

Some more of the shennanigans near the end of the play.  Here the King, played by V. Spencer Page, is getting a group hug from his re-united family members, and Pisanio just couldn’t resist so he joined in the tail-end of the hug as well :)  You’ll notice I’m carrying a sword here–we have a big sword fight near the end of the play–lots of fun!

 

 

And here we are at curtain call, and you can get another look at all the fabulous costumes!

 

 

Portland Actor’s Ensemble has a lovely long-standing tradition of the actors going out into the audience, right after some of the performances are done, and offering food to the audience!  On this day we had a delicious selection of two types of fresh grapes, watermelon and bread.

 

 

And this is what actors do best after a long and strenuous outdoor Shakespeare performance–we eat!  Although I am missing out here–I must still be talking to people out in the audience :)

 

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my Shakespeare summer, and thanks for reading!

 

 Are you enjoying outdoor summer plays where you live this year?   Have you ever had a chance to see Shakespeare plays performed outdoors?   I’d love to hear about it down in the comments, so feel free to stop by and say hi!

 

 If you like this post, you can Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog via email or RSS–thank you!  

 

We are now also on LinkedIn–which has a Cabaret group you should join (!)–and Google+.  You can connect with us there as well.

We appreciate your support!

Till next time, 

Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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There’ll Be Some Changes Made

 

Hello–as you might have noticed, we’ve taken some needed time off from the blog.

My original idea was that this blog would help us build out audience, and it has, in terms of national exposure.  However, we need to spend more time building our local audience, and they are not, for the most part, online.  This means that our marketing efforts for McElrath Cabaret will have to be taken to the streets, so to speak, for the next while.

We love sharing the information on cabaret tips, questions and Cabaret Through Time posts that you’ve come to enjoy here, and we will continue to write on these topics, just not on a weekly basis, but when we have something important to say about any of them.  We’ll still be posting tips on Tuesdays, questions on Wednesdays and Cabaret Through Time on Fridays, just not on a weekly basis.

We’ve been busy with auditions, and I’m pleased to announce that I was cast in a Shakespeare production for this summer with Portland Actors Ensemble.

We also have an upcoming gig with the Puddin’ River Jazz Band at the Willamette Valley Jazz Society in Salem, Oregon on Sunday, April 14th, from 1-5pm, and it’s a dance.

Hope you’re enjoying cabaret entertainment this week, and honing your skills!

 

Do you have an upcoming cabaret show?  Let us know in the comments below–we love to hear from you!

 

 If you like this post, you can Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog via email or RSS–thank you!  

 

We are now also on LinkedIn–which has a Cabaret group you should join (!)–and Google+.  You can connect with us there as well.

 

We appreciate your support!

Till next time, 

Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

 

 

 

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An Upcoming Trad Jazz Gig–We’d Love To See You There!

 

Hello everyone!  It’s been a busy time here at McElrath Cabaret of late.  For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been up to my eyeballs preparing for a Shakespeare audition (I decided to go with Mistress Page from The Merry Wives of Windsor–a very fun play and a role I’d love to do sometime!), and we had a rehearsal and are gearing up for a fun annual gig that we’ve had the pleasure to do with the traditional jazz band out of Portland that we play with–the Puddin’ River Jazz Band.  We’ll get back to our regular posting schedule next week, after this gig is over.

 

In the meantime–if you are in the mood for a Mardi Gras party that is a dance, and you’d like to spend an afternoon listening to trad jazz and swing tunes, as well as some early rock and roll, then this may be just the event for you!  Here are the details:

Who:         KJ and Athena McElrath with Puddin’ River Jazz Band
What:        Performance at the Portland Dixieland Jazz Society
Where:     The Milwaukie Elks Lodge (don’t let the name of this place scare you–this event is open to the public–you don’t have to be an Elk to attend!)
13121 SE McLoughlin Blvd.
Milwaukie, OR  97222
                Map here.
When:      Sunday, February 17, 2013
                 1-5 pm
Cost:       $10 for Portland Dixieland Jazz Society members, $15 for non-members

 

The way it works is we play three sets, which are interspersed with sets by the jammers, namely, musicians and singers who attend and sit in and jam on many classic trad jazz tunes.  If you sing or play, come join the jammers–it’s fun!

 

If you are so inclined, it never hurts to dress for this dance in styles that might have been worn in the 1920s-1940s–fun, but definitely optional.

 

Here’s a picture of us from a trad jazz party:

 

 

And here’s a link to the Portland Dixieland Jazz Society webpage–I just noticed that they have me singing and the band, including KJ on piano, doing our rendition of “What A Little Moonlight Can Do”–when you visit the website!

 

We’d love to see you there!

 

What are your favorite trad jazz songs?  Let us know in the comments below–we love to hear from you!

 

 If you like this post, you can Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog via email or RSS–thank you!  

 

We are now also on LinkedIn–which has a Cabaret group you should join (!)–and Google+.  You can connect with us there as well.

 

We appreciate your support!

Till next time, 

Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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Cabaret Through Time Fridays at McElrath Cabaret: A George Gershwin Quote From Michael Feinstein’s Book –Join Us!

 

Welcome to McElrath Cabaret–We hope you enjoy our cabaret blog!

 

 

Frank Sinatra on your Friday, here serving up the delicious “It Ain’t Necessarily So” by George Gershwin from the Broadway musical Porgy and Bess.  This is from Sinatra’s album entitled Sinatra Sings Gershwin, and I’m not sure who the female vocalist is who joins him in a duet on this number–enjoy!

 

Fridays are the day when we at the McElrath Cabaret Blog present blog posts in our Cabaret Through Time series. We present historical cabaret singers, entertainers, venues, writers, and musicians, and often include cabaret videos. We hope that you find them informative!

 

George The Great

 

George Gershwin 1937

George Gershwin,  March 28, 1937

Source:  Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

I was reading Michael Feinstein’s new book, The Gershwins and Me:  A Personal History in Twelve Songs this morning at breakfast, and came across this quote from George Gershwin.  This is from a piece of Gershwin memorabilia that Feinstein has included in his book, and this document, credited as a “note to author from publicist Frank Liberman” (163), is a copy of the original which is included in Feinstein’s volume (162).  It says that this is:

 

“a page written in pencil.  These are the exact George Gershwin words:

I Do Like

1.  sun bathing

2.  A good book

3.  seeing great paintings

4.  a tolerant woman

5.  exercise

6.  A Hudson River sunset

7.  noodle soup

8.  a good shave

9.  Doing someone a good turn.

10.  The things said about Irving Thalberg  [Thalberg was an American film producer who was the Head of Production at MGM in its early years.]

 

I Do Not Like

1.  Icy winds

2.  women’s stocking with seams off center

3.  B Pictures

4.  cheap women

5.  sentimental tripe

6.  oysters

7.  long speeches

8.  bad losres (losers)

9.  dead cigars

10.  anything phoney.

 

I loved this.  When was the last time you wrote out a list of what you like and what you do not like?  It’s good to be clear, to yourself and to others.  I love the humor in this list as well.

 

Happy Friday, everyone!

 

What are your favorite songs from George Gershwin?  Let us know in the comments below–we love to hear from you!

 

 If you like this post, you can Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog via email or RSS–thank you!  

 

We are now also on LinkedIn–which has a Cabaret group you should join (!)–and Google+.  You can connect with us there as well.

 

We appreciate your support!

Till next time, 

Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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Ask A Cabaret Question at McElrath Cabaret–Do You Spend Time Daily Honing Your Cabaret Skills?–Join The Conversation!

 

Welcome to McElrath Cabaret–We hope you enjoy our cabaret blog!

 

Jazz and cabaret singer Paula West with “Fly Me To The Moon”–gorgeous vocal tone–enjoy!

 

Today’s cabaret question is this:

 

 Do you spend time daily honing your cabaret skills?

 

This is really the fun and creative part of becoming a cabaret entertainer.    And just like for the business side of cabaret, if you regularly devote time, anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour per day, you will eventually see improvements in your cabaret skills.

 

Here are some things you can do to hone your cabaret skills:

 

  • Take voice lessons and work on improving your vocal tone and breathing.
  • Take acting class and improve your work as an actor–after all, you are acting all the lyrics to your songs, and having the acting chops is a vital key to becoming a great cabaret entertainer.
  • Watch others when cabaret shows are in your area.
  • Make an investment in yourself, and get albums from great cabaret artists to listen to and learn from.  If your cabaret career is treated like a business, this is a tax write-off as part of your cabaret research for your business!
  • Learn to read music and become a good musician.  There are so many bad jokes about singers and their lack of musical knowledge that it is painful, so don’t be the butt of those jokes!  Get out there and take a music theory class or some lessons in the subject if you need to.
  • While you’re at it, if you haven’t already, learn some basic piano playing skills.  You don’t have to be a great player at all, but it is very helpful if you can read music well enough and are familiar enough with a keyboard to be able to pound out your part when you are learning new material, or working on harmonies if you work as part of a duo or trio.
  • Read excellent cabaret books.
  • Become familiar with a wider range of songs.  Go to your local library, or college music library, and read scores from Broadway musicals.  (While you’re at it, check out the corresponding libretto, too, so you know what the storyline is for the show.)  Sometimes you can find folios of music from films as well.  See if you can check them out, and if so, bring them home and challenge yourself to learn as many new songs as possible.
  • Learn how to do research for your cabaret shows.  Become friends with your reference librarians, and have them show you where to find the information that you need.  Find helpful websites for composers and lyricists, and learn about all the greats.
  • Get DVDs of famous cabaret entertainer’s shows.  There are some for Mabel Mercer, Bobby Short and Wallowitch and Ross on Netflix–hopefully others will be forthcoming.
  • Practice writing patter.
  • Practice delivering patter.  Saying it over and over in your head to memorize it is one thing, but actually getting it up on its feet and delivering it in a believable way to an audience is another–it takes practice to get it where you want it.
  • Learn how to work with a single piano for accompaniment when you sing, and as you have opportunity, learn how to work with a trio and a 7-piece band, or even a big band.  There are listening skills involved for you with the larger groups that you won’t get when it’s just you and a piano, but it is a learned skill.  One tip is to listen for the bass player–the root of the chord is usually in the bass, and by listening to the bass, even if you can’t always hear the rest of the rhythm section well, it often will be enough to keep you on track when you are singing.
  • Learn how to work with a microphone, and how to maneuver a mic cable around a stage so that you look professional and don’t trip yourself up on cables.  Learn how to deal with your microphone in relation to monitors and speakers so you don’t get feedback.
  • Learn how to be comfortable with 100 people watching you.  This is easier said than done, but with acting class you will learn skills that will allow you to stay in character, even if that character is yourself, even when you know every eye is on you.    That’s why you’re on stage, isn’t it–to have the audience on the edge of their seat, eyes glued to you, to see what you’re going to do next?  Hey, it’s what the audience wants, too–it’s called entertaining them!
  • Learn what to do when there are musical breaks in your songs.  What will you do when you are onstage and not singing?
  • Learn when you can take small, inconspicuous sips of water during your show.  Actually practice this, and when the best times are.
  • Practice sitting on stage in a graceful manner, and getting up off a stool or chair if you are seated at any point during your show.  If you are short like me, the height of the chair makes all the difference in the world in how you look when seated.  Practice getting up and down in your show clothes and shoes ahead of time for your show, and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Your cabaret show is a visual package that you present as well as a vocal one, so practice those skills that make you look good.  Hair and makeup are 2 that come to mind, and there are tons of YouTube videos to teach you any techniques or styles that you might wish to learn.
  • Learn some improvisation skills.  You need to learn to be able to “read” an audience, so you don’t lose their attention and so you can give them what they want.  Improv acting skills are tremendously helpful in helping to give you the skills to work with your audience as your scene partner, so to speak, so you can help to make them feel at ease and like they are all insiders to you and what you are doing onstage.
  • Learn how to deal with hecklers, drunks and other rude people from onstage.  Is there a polite way you can deal with them?  Sometimes there is, sometimes you might have to make your pointed point clear to them rather directly.
  • Practice being pleasant to work with–this is a skill that those around you will value often above all others, so pay attention to it.
  • Sing your songs at piano bars and open mics whenever you are given the opportunity.  Practice being ready to get up at a moment’s notice and being able to entertain a roomful of strangers.
  • Many, many more!

So how about you?   Do you spend time each day honing your cabaret skills?  Let us know down in the comments!

 

You can also leave a comment on LinkedInGoogle+Facebook or Twitter.  And you can always feel free to drop us a line, either in the comments below or send us a direct email, and let us know a cabaret question that you would like us to ask, and we’ll do our best to include it in an upcoming Wednesday post.  

 

I truly look forward to your joining the conversation with your comments! We value each of our readers very much, and hope to entertain you and give you a place to come and learn more about cabaret.

 

If you like this post, you can Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog via email or RSS–thank you!  

 

We are now also on LinkedIn–which has a Cabaret group you should join (!)–and Google+.  You can connect with us there as well.

 

We appreciate your support!

Till next time, 

 

Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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Cabaret Tip Tuesday at McElrath Cabaret: Become A Better Writer to Improve Your Cabaret Show And Promotion–Join Us!

 

Welcome to McElrath Cabaret–We hope you enjoy our cabaret blog!

 

 

Here is Barbara Lea singing “Sweet and Slow”– Enjoy!

 

My cabaret tip for you today is:

 

Become a better writer to improve your cabaret show and promotion.

 

You might be thinking to yourself, “What does writing have to do with cabaret?”, but actually, quite a bit.  I’ve thought about this quite a bit, and being a former English teacher, I thought it might be useful to try to break down the concept into a few usable ideas for you.

 

There are four main areas were writing will come into play as you craft and promote your new cabaret show.  They are:

 

  • Writing the name of your show
  • Writing patter
  • Writing promotional material
  • Writing on social media outlets

Each of these are important topics, and I will be covering each in more detail in the weeks to come.

Today let’s focus on the first area, which is writing the name of your show.  The name is the most succinct way you have of getting potential audience members, the press, bookers and agents interested in seeing your show, so it is extremely important that you find the best wording to use.

A few suggestions for the name of your show:

  • A short name is almost always better than a long one.  Remember that it will need to be used on flyers and other paper handouts where space will  be at a premium.  A short name is also easier for someone to remember, and you want them to remember it!
  • A catchy name is imperative.  Some cabaret artists will use a phrase from a famous song lyric as the title of their show.  Others capture the main idea of the show in a very few words.  This is a lot like writing what is known as a “hook” line for a film script.  It’s a one-sentence summary of an entire 120-page script.  You will be doing probably at least  a dozen songs or more, so how have you connected them together in your show?  Is it via a theme?  If so, the name of that theme might very well end up in your show title.
  • A name that resonates with the public is super important.  In order to get to the point of walking up on a stage and singing your show, you first have to book it somewhere.  This means that you will have to explain the idea of your show to bookers, who come from all walks of life and different experience levels in terms of entertainment and cabaret.  I’ve found that it’s best if you can name your show something that has universal appeal.  Our show title, “From Broadway To Hollywood:  A Celebration of Song” is successful as a title in this regard, because most people have heard of Broadway and Hollywood, and can relate to it in some way.  Also, the word “celebration” gives the impression that the show is going to be fun for the audience, which of course it is!  Humorous titles are also quite appealing, but make sure that the humor is universal and in good taste.

One way to get better at writing cabaret show titles is to see what others before you have done.  Read the Cabaret Hotline Online and Life is a Cabaret Newsletter, and take note of the names of various cabaret artists’ shows, for example.  Become a fan on Facebook of your regional Cabaret Association, and see what shows people in your area are doing and what they are calling them.  Album titles from famous cabaret entertainers are also useful for learning purposes–what wording have they used to convey the meaning of the songs included in the album?

Have you spent time working on your cabaret writing, and do you have any tips for doing so?  Let us know in the comments!

 

Hope these Tuesday cabaret tips help–let us know what other topics you’d like to see us cover here, and we’ll do our best to work through them!

 

As a cabaret singer, what would you add to this conversation?  Leave us a note about it in the comments below—we always love to hear from our readers!

 

If you like this post, you can Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog via email or RSS–thank you!  

 

We are now also on LinkedIn–which has a Cabaret group you should join (!)–and Google+.  You can connect with us there as well.

 

We appreciate your support!

Till next time,

Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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