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Cabaret Month Heats Up

RADITIONALLY, MARCH IS A HOT MONTH FOR cabaret and the cabaret community gets to pat itself on the back in style. Each year it gets better and 1997 is no exception.

The Back Stage Bistro awards, emceed by John Fugelsang at The Supper Club, on March 3, kicked things off with great style. (See the related news story on page 1.) The month is filled with various other events, all designed to support and celebrate this art form that has endured the best and worst of times over the years. A driving force on New York's night-life scene, live entertainment is worthy of a lot of attention. Still, getting that attention is difficult for rising and established cabaret artists. March spotlights cabaret, increasing the visibility of the clubs and our many talented artists.

Coming up mid-month Back Stage will sponsor a panel discussion, "How to Get Your Club Act Booked," at Don't Tell Mama. Scheduled for March 17, from 5:30 to 7:15, it's presented by the weekly's editor in chief, Sherry Eaker, and moderated by Roy Sander and myself. Some of New York's most knowledgeable and savvy club operators and booking managers will participate. The roster is: Richard Hendrickson (Judys'), Sidney Myer (Don't Tell Mama), Erv Raible (Eighty Eight's), Scott Samuelson (Bradstan Country Club), Mike Teele (The Duplex), and Bryan Utman (Danny's Skylight Room). To reserve, call: (212) 536-1485.

A MAC/ASCAP Songwriters' Showcase was held on March 5, at The Lighthouse. This event featured performances of MAC-nominated songs and special material as well as of finalists in the "Recording of the Year" category, who sang songs from their albums.

On Tues., March 11, at 4 pm, a MAC Community Outreach Program, working in association with the Boys Brotherhood Republic, will be hosted by WQEW's Stan Martin and Jerry Stiller.

THE MONTH-LONG CELEBRATION CULMINATES with the 11th-annual MAC awards (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs), on March 31. Once again, the event will be held at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, followed by a gala party at Maxim's. For MAC-Awards tickets, call: (212) 875-5050 (Alice Tully box office) or Centercharge (212) 721-6500.

Karen Akers announced the nominees for the MAC awards, at Rainbow & Stars, on Feb. 27, for members of the press and invited guests. Among the nominees present: Judy Barnett, Jamie deRoy, Baby Jane Dexter, Karen Mason, MarieEileen O'Brien, Tom Postilio, and Samuel Sagenkahn.

While the always-sophisticated Akers was listing the names of the nominees in each category, she was "interrupted" by a breathlessly bubbly (and over the top) "Liza Minnelli," in the person of multi-talented Christine Pedi from the cast of "Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back." The ever-elegant Akers graciously shared the microphone (not that the kinetic "Liza" was about to relinquish it!), much to the amusement of the crowd. It was announced that the MAC board of directors also will present three special awards to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to live entertainment: cabaret super star Andrea Marcovicci; Frank Military, senior vice president for Warner/Chappell Music Publishing; and composer Burton Lane, who will be honored posthumously with the Lifetime Achievement award.

VARIETY HAS BEEN THE SPICE OF CABARET IN more ways than one over the last few years. This past year alone, cabaret has seen more variety shows than ever. Overall, they've been great and created a new forum for artists to showcase their talents. This year three of our town's most popular performers are nominees: Jamie deRoy & Friends (cabaret's first variety show), Seth Rudetsky and Kristine Zbornik at Rose's Turn, and the long-running "Monday Night Madness" at Eighty Eight's, hosted by Angela LaGreca. Now, I have to admit that I have become a fan of this variety format in cabaret and really like seeing a fine lineup of terrific performers do their thing. When planned right, it's a formula that works to a "T."

SPEAKING OF WORKING, ANGELA LaGRECA'S "Monday Night Madness" celebrated its one-year anniversary on Feb. 24, with two back-to-back shows and a bevy of great guests. (The weekly show usually presents three performers.) Many in the cabaret community turned out in force to cheer Angela on, and what a swell party it was. There were too many highlights to name all, but were some terrific standouts included tour de force moments by Jeff Harnar, Portia Nelson, Natlie Gamsu, Carolyn Maye, Cory Kahaney, John Bucchino, The Tonics, Joy Behar, Bobby Belfry, Naomi Kukoff, and David Friedman.

However, amid the grand singing, the madness, and guffaws, it was Grammy-winner Julie Gold's simple honesty about following your dreams and how fortunate she is that was truly one of those moments one doesn't forget. Such unadorned simplicity and sincere respect for fellow artists and her audience is one of the reasons cabaret is so special--and just another reason to celebrate Cabaret Month. This is a very talented lady with plenty of heart.

ON MARCH 10, JUDYS' WILL host a benefit for Cabaret Hotline, the homespun monthly that champions live entertainment. Julie Wilson heads the event. Others on the talented roster include: Berri Blair, Jonathan Blair, Eric Comstock, Susan Ellman, Michael Ferreri, Christopher Gines, Jonathan Long, Paula Potaki, Barbara Shapokas, Jerry Scott, and Judy Kreston and David Lahm. For more information, call (718) 284-7095.

SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS IN THE CLUBS: This is a busy Cabaret Month for club-hoppers. At The Blue Note: Latin Jazz Festival, March 18-23 . Cafe Carlyle: Barbara Cook opens March 25; 1997 Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Eartha Kitt is in residence until March 22) . Caroline's: New Comedy Night hosted by Eddie Brill, March 3-9; Marilyn Sokol, March 11 .

Catch A Rising Star: Paul Reggio, March 25; Janeane Garafolo, March 28 & 29 . Danny's Skylight Room: Marta Sanders, March 15; 1997 Bistro winner Laurie Krauz, March 25 & 26. Blossom Dearie begins an extended run, March 28 . Don't Tell Mama has The Jenny Burton Experience, Doo-Wa-Zoo, Jon Andersson, Eric Michael Gillett, James Beaman, Steven Brinberg, and Jamie deRoy & Friends .

The Duplex highlights: Dressing Room Divas, Fairy Tales, and American Vaudeville Theatre . Eighty Eight's lineup includes: Baby Jane Dexter, John Epperson, Angela LaGreca's "Monday Night Madness," Erik and the Snow Maidens, Natalie Douglas, Steve Hayes, and Jeanne MacDonald . The Triad hosts "Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back." Ric Ryder, Verhaeghe and Ginsburg, and Shawn McDermott.

There's a lot more going on all over town in the clubs. It's Cabaret Month--come to the cabaret!

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