Ashley Steves is a full-time freelance writer and editor based in New York specializing in arts and entertainment, politics and social issues. In addition to her position at BroadwayWorld as a Cabaret Writer, she is currently a staff writer at Theatre Is Easy, reviewing off-Broadway and off-off Broadway shows, and a recurring writer for New York Observer and Village Voice. A musician of 15 years, her work is driven by a love and passion for the arts and for arts education. She’s been obsessed with theatre since seeing PBS’s American Playhouse recording of Into the Woods in her sixth grade general music course. Her favorite musical is and will likely always be The Producers. You can find her on Twitter @NoThisIsAshley.
It feels in many ways poetic that both the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman's birth fall on the same year. That's precisely where The Bearded Ladies Cabaret comes in. The Philadelphia-based experimental cabaret troupe is part of La MaMa's STONEWALL 50 celebrations, joining a group of LGBTQ+ artists from around the globe. The Beards' contribution is the New York premiere of their CONTRADICT THIS! A BIRTHDAY FUNERAL FOR HEROES, which---spoiler alert---starts as a birthday party for 'much-lauded homo poet' Walt Whitman and descends into a trial, taking on Whitman's problematic political views, our imperfect heroes, and cancel culture as a whole.BWW Interview: Liz Callaway Rings in Summer With Her New Feinstein's/54 Below Show SETS IN THE CITY June 11, 2019
This past March, at 2017's MAC Awards, honoring the best of cabaret in New York over the past season, as in most years, there were five nominees for Female Vocalist: Celia Berk, Sally Darling, Meg Flather, Josephine Sanges, and Lisa Viggiano. It's not particularly important, in this case, who won. (Flather did.) If their shared story met the usual expectations, it would've ended there and each nominee would've gone on her own way to do her next big thing. You'll be happy to hear their story defies those expectations.BWW Review: Betty Buckley Brings Righteous Anger to Joe's Pub in Exceptional STORY SONGS #2 October 14, 2017
One of the country's most vibrant eras in music, in general and especially for women, was the 1960s, filled to the brim with girl groups like The Chantels and The Supremes, folk pioneers like Joan Baez, and songwriters so influential that, decades later, that musical written about them keeps filling its Broadway house to capacity for close to four years (Carole King, of course). In the midst of political and public unrest, in a male-dominated world and industry, these women made space and carved out their own spots in music history.
Who better to spotlight these singers and songwriters than Carole J. Bufford, who has carved out her own spot within the New York cabaret scene as an enthusiastic and rich interpreter of the Jazz Age songbook, and returned to the circuit with something a little different: YOU DON'T OWN ME: THE FEARLESS FEMALES OF THE 1960S, a celebration of the 'bold and daring women [who] planted their flags and ensured their voices were heard.' And as it turns out, it's not only Bufford's most fearless show, but also one of her best.BWW Interview: Melissa Errico Talks Singing Sondheim at Feinstein's/54 Below and the Composer's Warmth/Ruthlessness May 31, 2017
Melissa Errico is no stranger to Stephen Sondheim. She played Dot/Marie at The Kennedy Center in the first revival of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, Clara in PASSION in 2013 Off-Broadway, and, most recently, Leona in New York City Center's production of DO I HEAR A WALTZ?.
Three shows and many performances later, Errico has become a major interpreter of the composer's work, daring but reverent, and hyper-focused on all of the minutiae and layers found per page of just one song. On June 3, she will bring her MELISSA ERRICO SINGS STEPHEN SONDHEIM to Feinstein's/54 Below for its New York debut, following raves from its original incarnation in Washington, D.C. In between rehearsals prior to the show, we discussed her subliminal start on Sondheim, the composer's 'warmth [and] ruthlessness,' and how his work may or may not be a religion.BWW Review: Chita Rivera, Complete With Frills and Feathers, Entertains In Café Carlyle Run May 17, 2017
“Shouldn't I be somewhere at 8:00?”
That is a fair reaction for the Chita Rivera to have to once seeing boards and bus ads for CHIGAGO, BYE BYE BIRDIE, and WEST SIDE STORY a few years back while they were all simultaneously running, a story she regaled the audience with in the intro to her WEST SIDE medley at the Café Carlyle last week. When your name has become synonymous with iconic shows, maybe as iconic as the shows themselves, you have somewhere to be at 8:00… and people will be there to see.BWW Feature: The New York Pops Readies Itself for an Eclectic Second Half of Season March 10, 2017
The New York Pops brands itself as "a different kind of orchestra," and the proof is in the programming.
The orchestra, the largest independent orchestra in the United States, will begin the second half of their season on Friday, March 10, 2017, with a LIFE IS A CABARET: KANDER & EBB, celebrating the music of the legendary duo, and continuing a season (and organization mission) dedicated to featuring a wide variety of performers, composers, and genres.2016 BWW Cabaret Awards: Celia Berk and Sidney Myer Win Top Show Honors; Betty Buckley and Tony Yazbeck are Top Celebs January 19, 2017
Starting in the back of the packed Feinstein's/54 Below house with 'It's a New World' (Harold Arlen/Ira Gershwin), Molly Pope has your attention. The band has played the overture; now it is her turn, crooning in silence.
As suddenly as the first number ends, you're launched into the energetic 'Gotta Have Me Go with You,' Pope working her way through the crowd to the stage to join Brian Beach and Danny Bevins, her pair of enthusiastic backup dancers for the evening and the final pieces of her very complete transformation into Vicki Lester.BWW Review: Cabaret Celebrates Stephen Sondheim in Night Two of the Mabel Mercer Foundation Cabaret Convention (10/19) October 21, 2016
Hold your hats and hallelujah.
After an electrifying opening night, the Mabel Mercer Foundation's 27th Annual Cabaret Convention continued Wednesday night in a packed Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Hosted by Jeff Harnar and Andrea Marcovicci, the cabaret community gathered to salute the music of Stephen Sondheim, the EGOT-winning composer/lyricist whose oeuvre has been simultaneously catapulting and tripping up artists for decades.
Despite 30 performances on the evening, you'd be hard-pressed to find a weak spot in Wednesday night's lineup, hosting what is arguably the best rotation of the four nights, featuring cabaret giants, up-and-comers, expert arrangers (plus the talents of Jered Egan on bass and Dan Gross on drums), and Sondheim role originators.BWW Interview: MAC Award Winner Celia Berk Discusses Her Latest Album MANHATTAN SERENADE and Her Lifelong Love Affair with New York October 13, 2016
Ask Celia Berk what she loves about New York and she'll give you a list. Or, better yet, an album.
Corporate executive by day, cabaret chanteuse by night (and a damn good one), Berk has won a MAC Award (New York Debut – Female), a Bistro Award (Vocalist), a BWW Award (NY Cabaret Debut), and The Margaret Whiting Award from The Mabel Mercer Foundation since her 2014 debut album You Can't Rush Spring.
Her latest, Manhattan Serenade, is an eclectic collection of New York and New York-esque songs steeped in nostalgia and romance, complete with arrangements by Alex Rybeck and a stunning orchestra.
Extended by popular demand, Berk will celebrate its release once more at the Metropolitan Room this Friday, October 14 at 7:00 pm. Before the show, we sat down for a discussion on her love note to New York, carving out a space for yourself in the city, and typical New York resilience.BWW Interview: MAC Award Winner Janice Hall Talks Dietrich and the Thrills of Cabaret Performance Prior to Her Upcoming GRAND ILLUSIONS Revival September 9, 2016
No matter the song, style, or setting, Janice Hall, the multi-talented opera singer, cabaret chanteuse, and character actress, is her own master. She broke into the cabaret scene in 2010 in a big way with the 2011 Bistro Award Winner for Best Tribute Show and 2012 MAC Award Winner for Best Female Vocalist. The show that earned her those awards? 'GRAND ILLUSIONS: THE MUSIC OF MARLENE DIETRICH,' which Hall debuted in 2010 and will revive for one night on September 13 at 7:00 pm at the Metropolitan Room.
Before Hall takes the stage this upcoming Tuesday night, we sat down for a discussion on career invention, reinvention, and versatility--- both Dietrich's and her own.