Stephen Hanks

During more than 30 years as a magazine editor/writer, website writer, and book author for a variety of national magazines and websites, Stephen Hanks has written about sports, health and nutrition, parenting, politics, the media, and most recently, musical theater, and cabaret. While by day, Stephen is the Advertising Sales Director for Habitat Magazine (a publication covering life in New York Metro area co-ops and condos), by night he writes reviews and columns about New York City cabaret for BroadwayWorld.com. Stephen also writes feature stories about cabaret for Cabaret Scenes Magazine and CabaretScenes.org. He is also the Board President of Manhattan Musical Theatre Lab, which workshops new musicals in New York City, and he is the founder, producer and director of the Broadway Musical Fantasy Camp, which is a workshop for amateur performers that rehearses and presents staged readings of classic Broadway Musicals. In 2011, Stephen was an Associate Producer for the Off-Broadway show The Fartiste. Stephen most recently staged his debut solo cabaret show, "Beyond American Pie: The Don McLean Songbook" at the Metropolitan Room in New York. Please contact Stephen with your comments and questions at: stephenhanks41@gmail.com

MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

CABARET LIFE NYC: Mid-Year Cabaret Review--Best (and Favorite) 20 Shows and Performances (So Far) for 2014Stephen Hanks' Mid-Year Cabaret Review: Best 20 Shows and Performances (So Far) in 2014
Posted: Jul. 5, 2014


CABARET LIFE NYC: On the Eve of the 18th Annual Long Island Al Jolson Festival - The Confessions of a Jolson FanaticOn the Eve of 18th Annual Long Island Al Jolson Festival - The Confessions of a Jolson Fanatic
Posted: Jul. 12, 2014


CABARET LIFE NYC: Anatomy of a Duo Show--Classy, Entertaining, Yet Flawed KT Sullivan/Jeff Harnar Sondheim Set at the Beechman Is All About ChoicesKT Sullivan and Jeff Harnar Deliver Classy, Entertaining, Yet Flawed Sondheim Set at the Beechman
Posted: Jul. 25, 2014


Powerhouse Vocalist Sari Schorr and Her All-Star Band at The Cutting Room, 7/31Powerhouse Vocalist Sari Schorr and Her All-Star Band at The Cutting Room, 7/31
Posted: Jul. 12, 2014


LAST 365 DAYS

Voting Now Open in 18 Categories for 2013 BroadwayWorld New York Cabaret Awards, Thru 1/5Voting Open for 2013 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards - Vote Now!
Posted: Dec. 3, 2013


Sutton Foster's Singing Soars but Her New Show Falls Flat at Café CarlyleSutton Foster's Singing Soars but Her New Show Falls Flat at Café Carlyle
Posted: Sep. 14, 2013


Callaway Sisters and Bway Stars LuPone, Benanti, Hoffman, and White Among Winners of 2013 BWW NYC Cabaret AwardsCallaway Sisters and Bway Stars LuPone, Benanti, Hoffman, and White Among Winners of 2013 BWW NYC Cabaret Awards
Posted: Jan. 7, 2014


CABARET LIFE NYC: Anatomy of a Duo Show--Classy, Entertaining, Yet Flawed KT Sullivan/Jeff Harnar Sondheim Set at the Beechman Is All About ChoicesCABARET LIFE NYC: Anatomy of a Duo Show--Classy, Entertaining, Yet Flawed KT Sullivan/Jeff Harnar Sondheim Set at the Beechman Is All About Choices
July 25, 2014

The current Stephen Sondheim tribute show, Our Time, starring KT Sullivan and Jeff Harnar at the Laurie Beechman (which I attended on July 9 and 16; there are two more Wednesday performances at 6pm on August 6, 13), is a charming, classy, and entertaining affair. But it also includes enough flaws in execution that prevent it from being truly great. For one thing, it doesn't really feel like a duo show. It's more like two solo performances within one show, where the performers fit in a couple of numbers together to justify the concept. A critique of the Sullivan/Harnar Sondheim set provides an interesting opportunity to analyze the anatomy of a duo show and the choices that can make it workor not.
BWW Reviews: STEVE ROSS and KAREN OBERLIN Ooze Charm, Class, and Chemistry In Tribute to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at 54 BelowBWW Reviews: STEVE ROSS and KAREN OBERLIN Ooze Charm, Class, and Chemistry In Tribute to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at 54 Below
July 20, 2014

Steve Ross and Karen Oberlin's recent duo effort at 54 Below, Cheek to Cheek, was a show oozing charm, class, charisma, and chemistry, but most of all they conveyed their love for these legendary performers and the classic tunes associated with them.
Powerhouse Vocalist Sari Schorr and Her All-Star Band at The Cutting Room, 7/31Powerhouse Vocalist Sari Schorr and Her All-Star Band at The Cutting Room, 7/31
July 12, 2014

On the heels of her exciting recent performances at Brooklyn's Shape Shifter Lab and Manhattan's Metropolitan Room, powerhouse vocalist Sari Schorr will next appear at The Cutting Room (44 E. 32nd Street, NYC) on Thursday, July 31 at 7 pm. Supporting Schorr will be her all-star band The Engine Room, featuring Rob Paparozzi on harmonica and vocals, Pete Levin on keyboards, Jerry Marotta on drums, John Cariddi on guitar, and Sue Williams on bass. With a distinctive sound and a 5-octave range that draws from her roots in blues, rock and jazz, Schorr will debut a selection of explosive songs from her upcoming CD. The Cutting Room show will also feature drumming and recording legend Bernard 'Pretty' Purdie, who with his indelible sound will revisit some classic moments in funk drumming history, while also offering up some fat new grooves on songs written by Schorr.
CABARET LIFE NYC: On the Eve of the 18th Annual Long Island Al Jolson Festival - The Confessions of a Jolson FanaticCABARET LIFE NYC: On the Eve of the 18th Annual Long Island Al Jolson Festival - The Confessions of a Jolson Fanatic
July 12, 2014

The 18th Long Island Al Jolson Festival coming up on August 16 is a whole-day affair featuring film presentations, lectures, memorabilia displays and sales, and a performance--'The Heart of Al Jolson'--by singer and Staten Island native Tony Babino (photo below), who can sing Jolson songs like, well, you ain't heard nothin' yet. The other day, like clockwork, I received my yearly invitation to attend from Oceanside, LI resident Jan Hernstat, who for the past 10 years has been the President of the 62-year-old International Al Jolson Society (which was formed in early 1950, a few months before Jolson died), an organization with a worldwide membership hovering around 1,000. I am proud to say that for 30 years, I've been one of them. I'm even prouder to say that I've been an Al Jolson fanatic for much longer. Here's my story about how it happened.
BWW Reviews: Erudite Jon Weber Dazzles on the Keyboard While Exploring the Evolution of Piano Jazz at the Metropolitan RoomBWW Reviews: Erudite Jon Weber Dazzles on the Keyboard While Exploring the Evolution of Piano Jazz at the Metropolitan Room
July 8, 2014

Musical Director and pianist extraordinaire Jon Weber can play every imaginable musical style and for a wide variety of cabaret and concert singers, but this superlative keyboardist is really a jazz man at heart. Weber knows that the intricacies of certain music languages-whether classical or jazz-can be frustratingly elusive, so he's made it his mission to educate the masses, or in this case a few hundred people who after this Tuesday night at 7 pm will have attended one of his four entertaining classroom sessions at the Metropolitan Room, called 'From Joplin to Jarrett: 115 Years of Piano Jazz.' And when some of the students in the audience are among the most accomplished instrumentalists in New York, you realize that your teacher is a virtuoso.
CABARET LIFE NYC: Mid-Year Cabaret Review--Best (and Favorite) 20 Shows and Performances (So Far) for 2014CABARET LIFE NYC: Mid-Year Cabaret Review--Best (and Favorite) 20 Shows and Performances (So Far) for 2014
July 5, 2014

Since I attended more than 50 shows over the past eight months (a few more than once)--the large majority of which were reviewed on these web pagesI felt I had more than enough cabaret show inventory to present my second-annual Mid-Year Cabaret Review citing the 20 Best Cabaret Shows and Performances for the first half of 2014. Since the eligibility period for 2014 BroadwayWorld New York Cabaret Award consideration begins with shows staged since last November (late October if it was the first of a run), I've included a few of those late 2013 shows in this group. And with the announcement of the BWW Award nominees just four months away, I've offered some projections on the Award categories for which these shows very well might receive consideration.
CABARET LIFE NYC: BroadwayWorld Announces Categories for 2014 New York Cabaret Awards and New Nomination Process; Preliminary Voting Period Just Four Months AwayCABARET LIFE NYC: BroadwayWorld Announces Categories for 2014 New York Cabaret Awards and New Nomination Process; Preliminary Voting Period Just Four Months Away
July 1, 2014

It's hard to believe that 2014 is already half over and that the 2013 BroadwayWorld New York Cabaret Awards Show at Joe's Pub happened just about four months ago. This also means that the nomination period for the 2014 Awards is only four months away (end of October, with the final voting period beginning after Thanksgiving). It is with all that in mind that it seemed time for this column, which announces the 2014 BroadwayWorld New York Cabaret Awards categories and changes in the nomination process so that all you cabaret fans can start making mental notes of the year's potential nominees. (To help you in that process, in a few days I'll be posting my 'Mid-Year Report Card on the 20 Best Performances and Shows' so far in 2014 (going back to November 2013).
TUNE IN TIME, The Olympics of Musical Theater Songwriting, Stages Another Round of Competition at Stage 72, TodayTUNE IN TIME, The Olympics of Musical Theater Songwriting, Stages Another Round of Competition at Stage 72, Today
July 1, 2014

TUNE IN TIME, New York City's exciting, new musical theater challenge returns to Stage 72 today, July 1 at 9 pm with a new crop of exciting up-and-coming musical theater songwriters. The composers and lyricists must write a song from a musical whose title is literally picked from a hat, and in the genre determined by a spin of "The Dreaded Genre Wheel." Will it be a historical epic? Something a la Rodgers & Hammerstein? Or even [insert name of large theme-park owning megacorporation-turned-Broadway-megalopolis here]? Oh yeah, and they have just 20 minutes to do it.
TUNE IN TIME, The Olympics of Musical Theater Songwriting, Stages Another Round of Competition at Stage 72, 7/1TUNE IN TIME, The Olympics of Musical Theater Songwriting, Stages Another Round of Competition at Stage 72, 7/1
June 29, 2014

TUNE IN TIME, New York City's exciting, new musical theater challenge returns to Stage 72 on Tuesday, July 1 at 9 pm with a new crop of exciting up-and-coming musical theater songwriters. The composers and lyricists must write a song from a musical whose title is literally picked from a hat, and in the genre determined by a spin of "The Dreaded Genre Wheel." Will it be a historical epic? Something a la Rodgers & Hammerstein? Or even [insert name of large theme-park owning megacorporation-turned-Broadway-megalopolis here]? Oh yeah, and they have just 20 minutes to do it.
BWW Reviews: Terri White Is Once Again Terrific As She Scores With New Show at 54 BelowBWW Reviews: Terri White Is Once Again Terrific As She Scores With New Show at 54 Below
June 29, 2014

A year ago this summer (July 31, to be exact), Terri White performed a one-off show at 54 Below that was so stirring in its show-woman ship she was voted the winner of the 2013 BroadwayWorld New York Cabaret Award for 'Best One-Show Special Event.' Based on the Broadway and nightclub veteran's performance in her recent June 22 show at the same club, White should be a candidate to pick up the award once again this year. Maybe it's time to just call her, 'Terri Terrific.'
BWW Reviews: New York's Cabaret Stars Shine Brightly in Emotional MARGARET WHITING Tribute Show at Carnegie HallBWW Reviews: New York's Cabaret Stars Shine Brightly in Emotional MARGARET WHITING Tribute Show at Carnegie Hall
June 25, 2014

When Margaret Whiting died on January 10, 2011, the news was like a dagger into the heart of the New York cabaret community. Whiting was a beloved singer for almost seven decades, who seemingly delivered every American popular song ever written, conquered almost every musical art form--from Big Band to Country to Musicals to Cabaret, from radio to the recording studio. On top of all that, Whiting worked with and mentored many New York cabaret musical directors and performers, including the late Mary Cleere Haran and K.T. Sullivan, who along with Whiting's daughter Deborah, hosted a 90th birthday Whiting tribute show on Monday night at Carnegie Hall's elegant Weill Recital Hall. Presented by The Mabel Mercer Foundation, for which Sullivan is Artistic Director, It Might As Well Be Spring! A Celebration in Song of the Life of Margaret Whiting was an almost three-hour concert featuring two All-Star teams worth of cabaret stars spanning a few generations.
TUNE IN TIME, New York's New Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge Show, Returns to Stage 72 TonightTUNE IN TIME, New York's New Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge Show, Returns to Stage 72 Tonight
June 25, 2014

After a successful launch with two shows / competitions in April, New York City's exciting, new musical theater songwriting challenge, TUNE IN TIME, returns to Stage 72 (The Triad) tonight, June 25 and Tuesday, July 1 at 9 pm.
CABARET LIFE NYC: Two Charming Young Women Performers--Carly Ozard and Nikki MacCallum--Conquer the Challenge of the Personalized Tribute Show at The DuplexCABARET LIFE NYC: Two Charming Young Women Performers--Carly Ozard and Nikki MacCallum--Conquer the Challenge of the Personalized Tribute Show at The Duplex
June 23, 2014

The biggest challenge in personalizing a tribute show is when the set list is structured to tell a story about the performer's life. Those songs better be good, that life better be interesting, and that storytelling patter better be clever, humorous, and self-deprecating or an audience (let alone a reviewer) will tune you out quicker than a liberal accidentally hitting FOX News on the remote. I recently saw two different shows at The Duplex from enchanting young women performersCarly Ozard and Nikki MacCallum--who deftly managed to weave their love of a singer (Bette Midler for Ozard) or a songbook (Kander & Ebb for MacCallum) into a tale of life journey and personal growth to produce charming and entertaining shows.
BWW Reviews: The 'L' Word is 'Laughter' During JANE LYNCH's Gleeful, Quirky Debut Cabaret Show at 54 BelowBWW Reviews: The 'L' Word is 'Laughter' During JANE LYNCH's Gleeful, Quirky Debut Cabaret Show at 54 Below
June 21, 2014

In the TV musical comedy-drama, Glee, the award-winning actress Jane Lynch plays the deliciously evil high school cheerleading coach-turned-principal Sue Sylvester, who is constantly trying to sabotage the efforts of the school's glee club to compete in singing competitions or even exist. It's a good thing nobody tried to prevent Lynch from taking a real-life crack at nightclub singing, as her debut show this past week at 54 Below (the last show is tonight at 8pm) was a delightful breath of cabaret fresh air.
CABARET LIFE NYC: Marissa Mulder Again is Magical, But When It Comes to 'Standards' You Gotta Have StandardsCABARET LIFE NYC: Marissa Mulder Again is Magical, But When It Comes to 'Standards' You Gotta Have Standards
June 19, 2014

Rising cabaret star Marissa Mulder's most recent performance of 'Living Standards' at the Metropolitan Room was certainly up to the high standard she has set for herself over the past couple of years. In fact, she's so consistently solid that she overcame the show's misguided and clunky premise that some very good contemporary songs should be thought of as 'standards.'
CABARET LIFE NYC: KAREN OBERLIN and SEAN HARKNESS Concoct Romantic Musical Chemistry at the Metropolitan RoomCABARET LIFE NYC: KAREN OBERLIN and SEAN HARKNESS Concoct Romantic Musical Chemistry at the Metropolitan Room
June 14, 2014

Cabaret performers thinking about launching duo shows could certainly take a lesson in chemistry from watching and listening to singer Karen Oberlin and guitarist Sean Harkness in their current show, A Wish, which is based on their superb recently released CD of the same title, launched with two shows at Kitano on February 1 (to celebrate the CD release), and has taken up a once a month residency until late August at the Metropolitan Room (the next show is on June 25 at 9:30 pm). While theirs is not a romantic off-stage chemistry (both are happily quite happily married, thank you), on stage and in the recording studio Oberlin and Harkness have concocted a delicious musical interaction that conjures up romance to the nth degree.
BWW Reviews: Peggy Eason's New Cabaret Show at Don't Tell Mama is a Poignant Message of Personal EmpowermentBWW Reviews: Peggy Eason's New Cabaret Show at Don't Tell Mama is a Poignant Message of Personal Empowerment
June 14, 2014

Peggy Eason is one of those characters who seem to have been made for the New York cabaret scene. She's a bodacious woman who is ubiquitous at the local clubs, possesses a passion for singing, and bills herself as the 'Chocolate Diva,' although on stage she's more like a Red Hot Mama. Eason opened her third solo cabaret show, I'll Show Them All, at Don't Tell Mama on Monday night (she's appearing again at the club on Sunday at 7pm) with the decidedly politically incorrect titled song written especially for her by David Conforte, 'Black, Blind and Beautiful' (Hey, 'African American, Visually Challenged and Beautiful' doesn't have the same ring to it.). But there was little that was incorrect about her fast-paced and entertaining show that was often poignant and funny at the same time.
TUNE IN TIME, New York's New Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge Show, Returns to Stage 72, 6/25 and 7/1TUNE IN TIME, New York's New Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge Show, Returns to Stage 72, 6/25 and 7/1
June 13, 2014

After a successful launch with two shows/competitions in April, New York City's exciting, new musical theater songwriting challenge, TUNE IN TIME, returns to Stage 72 (The Triad) on Wednesday, June 25 and Tuesday, July 1 at 9 pm. A new roster of great up and coming musical theater--six composers and six lyricists-is ready to take on the challenge of writing a song from a musical whose title is, literally, picked from a hat in the style determined by a spin of The Dreaded Genre Wheel. Will it be a historical epic? Something a la Rodgers & Hammerstein? Experimental? Or even [insert name of large theme-park owning mega-corporation-turned-Broadway-megalopolis here]? Oh . . . and they have just 20 minutes to do it.
Beautiful and Bodacious Blues Singer SARI SCHORR Set to Perform in Multiple NY Metro Area Venues Throughout JuneBeautiful and Bodacious Blues Singer SARI SCHORR Set to Perform in Multiple NY Metro Area Venues Throughout June
June 1, 2014

When the legendary Blues artist Joe Louis Walker and his band played a terrific gig at B.B. King's Blues Club in August of 2012, it was their chick/babe front singer Sari Schorr who blew the roof off the club with power vocals. Now Schorr's voice will be busting out all over in June, as she is booked for performances this month throughout the metro area. On Thursday, June 5, her new Sari Schorr Band will be at Stanhope House in Stanhope, New Jersey, where the sensual Schorr will be performing a mix of classic Blues/Rock songs and her own original compositions. On Friday the 13th (7 pm) cabaret audiences will be very lucky to hear Schorr as one of the headliners in The Dana Lorge Variety Show at the Metropolitan Room. And then on Saturday June 21 (7:30 pm), Schorr will perform at Brooklyn's ShapeShifter Lab.
BWW Reviews: CAROLE J. BUFFORD Raises Her Cabaret Performance Bar To Star Level With 'Shades of Blue' at the Metropolitan RoomBWW Reviews: CAROLE J. BUFFORD Raises Her Cabaret Performance Bar To Star Level With 'Shades of Blue' at the Metropolitan Room
May 21, 2014

I never thought that writing a rave review would be more difficult than constructing a less than positive critique, but Carole J. Bufford, damn her, is causing me creative problems. That's because for the third time in three years I'm compelled to praise this attractive powerhouse cabaret singer to the skies (you can find my two previous essays on her unassailable talent here and here) and my author's arsenal contains only so many superlatives. With yet another outstanding performance last Thursday night at the Metropolitan Room, the young woman who was named BroadwayWorld.com's 2013 Cabaret Vocalist of the Year has snatched my mental thesaurus (not to mention my online one) and trampled all over it. She's given me the writer's block blues.