Cabaret Tip Tuesday At McElrath Cabaret: Use Pregnant Pauses When You Sing Cabaret Songs–Join Us!


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Bart Howard singing and playing piano on some of his own songs.  Probably best remembered for writing the standard “Fly Me To The Moon,” he also accompanied a host of cabaret stars and nightclub singers at some of the swankest clubs in New York City during the heyday of cabaret, including Peggy Lee, Johnny Mathis and Mabel Mercer.  Bart Howard on Wikipedia, an article about Bart Howard,  a musical gift to ASCAP from Bart Howard, as well as several mentions in James Gavin’s Intimate Nights.  Gavin also relates that there is an album of Howard’s music available, entitled “Bart!  The Songs of Bart Howard [with Julie Wilson, William Roy, and K. T. Sullivan],” (373), which was produced in 1990.  Enjoy!


Welcome to Cabaret Tip Tuesday at McElrath Cabaret, where we offer cabaret performance tips to help you put together a great performance at your next show!


Today I’m thinking about learning to be a great cabaret entertainer, so my tip for you today is this:  Use pregnant pauses when you sing cabaret songs.


So what do I mean by the phrase “pregnant pause?”  Basically, it is my way of thinking about certain lyrics that I take my time with when I am presenting them to a cabaret audience.  I focus on songs that have meaning for me lyrically, and are universal enough that they will likely reach the audience as well.


When you pause when singing a lyric, you go from sound to silence.  That in itself will get the audience’s attention.  But it’s also what you do after that pause that will make a memory for them.


For example, here is a little example I use in our cabaret show, From Broadway To Hollywood:  A Celebration Of Song.  At one point in the show, I sing Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s lovely “All The Things You Are,” from the Broadway musical Very Warm For May.  A gorgeous song, and the lyrics are full of acting moments for the savvy cabaret singer.


I sang the verse fairly slowly, to give the audience a chance to hear and take in the lovely lyrics.  The final line of the verse, which really sets up the chorus to come, is:


“All that I want in all of this world is you.”


I set it up so it would have the most meaning that I could give with that lyric like this:  I sang slowly up to the word “world,” then took a pause.  The audience leans forward–what does she want in all of this world, they ask themselves, because they’ve been given time to think of it.  Then, after a pause, I come back in, quietly and honestly, with the words “is you.”  Then the chorus comes in and I get to describe through those lyrics who the “you” that I am referencing in the verse is like.  Glorious acting moments in this classic song.  This is a song to sing very plainly and honestly–no crazy vocal melissma or blocking or body motions needed.  Just stand and act the lyrics that you sing, and it creates a memorable performance moment for the audience.  Remember that you are still acting even when you are not singing a lyric when you are presenting a song, and fill those pauses with meaning through your acting subtext choices.


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!


Do you have any tips that you like to use for singing with pauses that add to the acting?  Do you have any other cabaret show tips you’d like to share?  Do tell down in the comments! We always love to hear from our readers!


Till next time, 


ps–The Cabaret Soiree Link Party is still going strong–you can visit anytime to click on the links and see what others have posted, or you can share your own recent cabaret blog or cabaret website link from now through Thursday.  Link is below.


Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Mondays:  Cabaret Soiree Cabaret Blog Link Party

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Thursdays:  Featured Cabaret Blog, Website, Performer

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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About Athena at McElrath Cabaret

Athena McElrath is an entertainer with a love for theatre and singing. She enjoys delving in the area of historical cabaret, researching the singers and clubs that were in business from before 1920 to the present, in New York and beyond.
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