Pure pop pleasure with the Puppini Sisters

Apr 17

Pure pop pleasure with the Puppini Sisters

Under ordinary circumstances, the fact of wonderful British actor Hugh Laurie sitting a table away from me would be highly distracting. But Sunday afternoon at the Fairmont's Venetian Room wasn't ordinary circumstances: it was the only scheduled US performance of the British act The Puppini Sisters in support of their new album, The High Life.

The afternoon performance, like the sold-out evening performance, was part of the Bay Area Cabaret season, a season that spans Broadway, pop, jazz and, in a grand Puppini embrace, high camp and sterling musicianship.

Read More

The general awesomeness of Emily Skinner

Mar 06

The general awesomeness of Emily Skinner

In the last couple of years, San Francisco went from no Emily Skinner to new and improved now with 200 percent more Emily Skinner. The Tony-nominated actor (Side Show) was suddenly making regular appearances on our stages. In October of 2014, Skinner revealed her star power in 42nd Street Moon's Do I Hear a Waltz? (read about it here), in May of last year, she was a highlight of American Conservatory Theater's A Little Night Music (read about it here). The question is how did we get so lucky?

Read More

Judy Collins warbles Sondheim

Mar 01

Judy Collins warbles Sondheim

It's only logical that Judy Collins would end up doing a show devoted to the songs of Stephen Sondheim. The legendary American singer is, after all, the only one to deliver Sondheim an actual radio hit. Her version of his "Send in the Clowns" (from A Little Night Music) is his only radio hit – it was on the Billboard charts for 11 weeks in 1975, peaking at No. 36. Then, rather amazingly, Collins' recording charted again in 1977, peaking at No 19. The recording also nabbed a Grammy for song of the year.

Some three decades later, Collins, more gorgeous than ever at 75, is parlaying her success with "Clowns" into an entire act.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More