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Cabaret Life NYC: Listmania Part Deux! More Best Cabaret Performer Honorable Mentions for 2012

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Reviews and Commentary by Stephen Hanks

Wow, talk about a thumbs up! I received such a positive reaction to my "2012 Best of New York Cabaret" piece posted yesterday (see that post here: http://bit.ly/UoSWul) that I thought it would be fun to add to to my original 13 "honorable mentions" list (especially since I'm battling the flu and have nothing to do except for taking meds and sitting in my jammies goofing off in front of the computer). And besides, stopping at a mere 13 was a tad arbitrary when there were so many other terrific performers and performances during the last year that could have made the cut. So, here for your holiday week reading pleasure is Part 2 of my "Best" and "Most" Honorable Mentions in Cabaret for 2012 with 21 new listings (because an even 20 would be trite). Enjoy!

Best Performance by a Band That Makes Me Sorry I Don't Know How to Swing Dance--Yet: Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks for their performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall in April, and at Sofia's Downstairs (at the Edison Hotel) anytime.

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Best Performance by a Blues Singer In a Group: The sensational Sari Schorr who channelled Janis Joplin and Tina Turner during the show by the Joe Louis Walker Band at B.B. King's in August.

Best Performance at the Cabaret Convention That Made Me Really Sorry I Missed Seeing Their Show: Tie--Clint Holmes (This Thing Called Love: Paul Simon and Cole Porter at Cafe Carlyle), William Blake (Echoes of Etta: Etta James Tribute Show at Birdland), and Tony DeSare (at 54 Below).

Best Performance in a Debut Show by Someone Previously Unknown to the NY Cabaret Community: Jackie Kristel in A Girl You Should Know (Director, Collette Black; Musical Director, Tracy Stark). Maybe you don't know this up-and-comer yet, but she's doing very well in the BroadwayWorld.com Awards voting for "Best Debut Show" so remember the name.

Best Performance by a Girl Group: JaLaLa's Janis Siegel (also of Manhattan Transfer), Laurel Masse (formerly of Manhattan Transfer) and Lauren Kinhan (also of New York Voices) were vocally glorious at Joe's Pub in April.

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Best Performance by a Guest Vocalist: Shoshana Bean (photo) was sensational in Jason Robert Brown's songbook shows at 54 Below in September.

Best Performance by a Jazz Singer: Catherine Russell's April shows (which honored the music of her father Luis Russell and Louis Armstrong) at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Allen Room were simply sublime.

Best Performances By MetroStar Talent Challenge Competitors Who Finished in the Top 10 But Didn't Win: Eventual winner Billie Roe was a deserving champ, but Jodi Beck, Elisabeth Cernadas (second runner-up), Nikki MacCallum, and Sierra Rein should have at least made up four of the final five.

Best Performance of a Political Action Song: In her Birdland show Freedom Songs, Natalie Douglas delivered a stirring rendition of Laurelyn Dossett's new political folk song "Amendment One," which urged North Carolinians to vote last May against an amendment that would deem same-sex marriage in their state an illegal union. (Please click on Page 2 below to continue.)

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Best Performance by a Singer Doing One of My Favorite Songs by One of My Musical Heroes: The etherial and ageless Lori Lieberman (photo) singing Don McLean's "Empty Chairs" at Joe's Pub in July.

Best Performance of a Song Written By the Performer About His or Her Musical Hero: Rosemary Loar's adorable "All I Could Do Is Sigh" about her infatuation with Sting for her show Sting, Stang, Stung at the Metropolitan Room in February.

Best Performance by a String Instrumentalist Who is Not a Guitar or Bass Player: Tie--Aaron Weinstein, Violin, in Stringing Along With Love starring Karen Oberlin; and Karen Waltuch, Viola, in Take Me As I Am starring Elaine St. George. These terrific instrumentalists added a richness to the singing performances.

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Best Performances by Two People in a Duo Show Who Didn't Really Perform Together: Singer/songwriter Amy Engelhardt (formerly of the acapella group The Bobs) and Songwriter/Pianist Bob Malone each offered their own incredibly entertaining separate set (although Malone played piano for Amy) during their show "Two Bobs" at The Duplex in January.

Best Variety Show or Open Mic Production That Must Be Saved at All Costs: It would be a damn shame if The Dana Lorge Variety Extravaganza (with Barry Levitt as Musical Director), formerly known as Wednesday Night at the Iguana, doesn't get a new life at another club.

Best "When God Closes a Cabaret Room, He Opens a Cool Nightclub" Development: The opening of the glorious 54 Below after the closing of the beloved Oak Room.

Best "When God Closes a Cabaret Room, It's the Right Call" Development: I love Michael Feinstein and I'm looking forward to learning where he'll land next, but I won't be sad to see the closing of the overrated room at the Loews Regency.

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Most Entertaining Gender-Bending Show by a Female Impersonator: Roger Mapes (photo) was a performing revelation and a singing salvation during his Rev. Yolanda's Old-Time Gospel Hour (Director, Shawn Moninger; Musical Director, Kenneth Gartman). My BwayWorld review is pending so stay tuned.

Most Improved Show the Second Time Around: I didn't love Marissa Mulder's Look to Your Heart: The Songs of Jimmy Van Heusen when it debuted in 2011. But she brought the show back for the recent Urban Stages "Winter Rhythms Festival" and her obvious and rapid growth as a singer/performer brought more depth and confidence to her interpretations of some classic tunes of the 1930s to '50s.

Most Intriguing Performer Who Didn't Do a New York Show in 2012 and Who I'm Looking Forward to Seeing Perform in 2013: Champagne Pam (Pamela Lewis), although I really hope there are no dog references in the next show.

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Most Talented (and Friendly) Staff at a Cabaret Club: The Metropolitan Room group (led by Manager Bernie Furshpan) of Emily Blumen, Darron Cardosa, Jasmine Carrington,Nick Dhanoolal, Tom Gamblin, Marla Green, Jamie Hartmann,Robert Ima, Eddie Jacques, Alyse Kenny, Joseph Macchia, Mark McCombs, Liz McKendry, J.P. Perreault, Ted Stafford, and Nadine Zerphey are terrific performers as well as a wonderfully cordial club entourage. And at the most recent staff show, and at the club's Broadway at 22nd Street show, McKendry (photo) especially has been a revelation.

Most Underrated Male and Female Vocalists Whose Shows Were Extremely Entertaining but Who Won't Finish in the Top 5 for a BroadwayWorld.com Award: Jeff Macauley (It Was Me: The Songs of Norman Gimbel at Don't Tell Mama) and Corinna Sowers-Adler (By Request at the Metropolitan Room) staged shows this year that were classy, accessible and fun.

Happy New Year!

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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


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