Chita! The liveliest living legend of all

Feb 24

Chita! The liveliest living legend of all

In her opening number, Chita Rivera sings, "You're alive, so come on and show it. There's such a lot of livin' to do." She finishes the song, and the 81-year-old legend adds, "I mean it." And she's not kidding. After a triumphant turn in the Fairmont's Venetian Room in 2010, Rivera returned to the Bay Area Cabaret as part of the company's 10th anniversary season. Rivera's performance four years ago was spectacular (read my review here). This time out, she was beyond spectacular.

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Jason Brock pops a cork at Society Cabaret

Jan 25

Jason Brock pops a cork at Society Cabaret

If you only know Jason Brock from his appearances on Simon Cowell's X Factor televised singing contest and flashing light show, you only know part of Jason Brock. Sure, he's a fabulous showman with a distinctive sense of style and a killer set of pipes. But he's not all sequined flash and bravura attitude. He's also a serious singer and a thoughtful performer who knows how to punctuate his performances with sparkle and sass to ensure that his delightful personality and penchant for improvisation come shining through.

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Norm Lewis brings on the leading man charm

Oct 21

Norm Lewis brings on the leading man charm

More than two dozen songs and four standing ovations later, Norm Lewis has officially made his San Francisco splash. The Broadway leading man and golden-voiced baritone made his long-overdue Bay Area concert debut Sunday night at the Fairmont's Venetian Room as part of the Bay Area Cabaret's 10th anniversary season.

Most recently, the 50-year-old Lewis nabbed a Tony Award nomination opposite Audra McDonald in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, but his impressive resume also includes Javert in the revival of Les Misèrables, King Triton in Disney's The Little Mermaid, the Sondheim revue Sondheim on Sondheim and Side Show. He also has a recurring role as a senator on ABC's "Scandal" and will be starring opposite Bernadette Peters and Jeremy Jordan in A Bed and a Chair conceived by Sondheim and Wynton Marsalis. So all of that to say: Norm Lewis has chops, and he's not afraid to use them.

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Wesla Whitfield’s dazzling Street of Dreams

Sep 05

Wesla Whitfield’s dazzling <i>Street of Dreams</i>

Wesla Whitfield and Mike Greensill are better than ever, which is saying something as they've been better than most for quite some time. The singer and her husband, the arranger/pianist, haven't been seen regularly here in San Francisco since they moved north a few years back, but anytime they return is cause for attention and celebration, especially when they're part of an auspicious launch of a new cabaret room.

The lovely space is called Society Cabaret, and it's tucked away in the Hotel Rex, right off Union Square.

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Donna McKechnie charms in uneven cabaret show

Aug 17

Donna McKechnie charms in uneven cabaret show

Broadway legend Donna McKechnie, the original Cassie in A Chorus Line, has talked and sung about her life in San Francisco. In 2001, she brought Inside the Music to the Alcazar Theatre. The Tony Award-winner is back in town, still chatting and warbling about her storied life, but this time in a much smaller (and shorter) show in a much more charming room (Feinstein's at the Nikko).

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Sutton Foster charms at swanky new Feinstein’s

May 10

Sutton Foster charms at swanky new Feinstein’s

San Francisco Bay Area cabaret lovers drooped a little when The Rrazz Room, after attempting to make a go of it after departing the Hotel Nikko, finally packed up and headed out of town earlier this year.

But as Maria von Trapp is fond of saying, "When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." In this, case credit is due not so much the Lord (apologies) but to Michael Feinstein, one of this country's greatest natural resources and practically a one-man juggernaut in celebration (and preservation) of the Great American Songbook.

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