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Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021

It's time to give thanks but this list comes from the heart three hundred sixty-five days a year.

Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021

For Thanksgiving last year Broadway World Cabaret ran a story on the pets of the artists who create the cabaret community (to date, my most-viewed story). Staying a little closer to the home office, this year I was thinking about what and who I am, personally, thankful for, when it comes to the art of cabaret and the task of reporting on that art form. During my tenure at Broadway World Cabaret (847 Days) I've covered many shows in just about every club, sometimes seeing two, even three shows a day, and there is much for which we can all be grateful, though it is only fair for me to write exclusively from my own point of view.

So, what is this cabaret reporter grateful for this year?

Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021 The Number Of Days: My first review for Broadway World dropped on August 1st, 2019. This Thanksgiving Day the number of days that I have spent in clubs is 419. The number of days that I was away from the clubs because of the pandemic is 428. I'm catching up!

Hanging In There: Almost every room survived the pandemic and the show business shutdown to return for the purpose of presenting the artists of the community. One by one, beloved clubs re-opened and the performers and patrons Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021 breathed a sigh of relief. At the height of the global health crisis, there were days when it didn't look good for some clubs, while other rooms were operating on sidewalks in the snow, presenting hot toddies with space heaters, sidewalk singers in parkas, and drag queens on stoops. Crowdfunding pages and online telethons brought clubs and employees back from the brink of obliteration, and when New York City was ready for a re-birth, these tenacious titans stood, poised to reclaim their position in society.

Guardians at the Gate: There are hosts and concierges at the door of every club, there to welcome the guests and check their vaccination cards. It's a thankless task and they may have to deal with irate patrons who are tired of the proof of vax practice. Nevertheless, there they are, still doing their jobs as sweetly and professionally as they can, and each one of them inspires me to smile, every time I round that corner or walk through that door.

The Die-Hards: When you're in a club almost every night of the week, you come to know the regulars. Sometimes you may not speak, you might never even be introduced, but you see each other, you know one another - you're devotees of the art, supporters of the artists, and patrons of the club. And when you see them from across the room or as you are shown to your table, there is a strong sense of comfort.

Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021
Nicole Henry

Professional Courtesy: Marilyn Maye. Nicole Henry. Christine Andreas. Jeff Harnar. Blaine Alden Krauss. These are the names of some of the artists who retain the credo that memorizing your lyrics is a part of your job. Nary a music stand, tablet, nor lyric sheet comes up on the stage with them. They are the heroes of an industry riddled with laziness, an industry that, a few years back, decided that it was beyond acceptable, more than permissible to charge people to watch you read the words to your song: it was de rigueur. Thanks to the professional musical storytellers, there continues to exist the possibility that an audience member might sit in a nightclub where they have paid for storytelling and actually get storytelling.

The Publicists: The unsung heroes of the industry are these wonderful people who reach out to let members of the press know of especially important artist appearances, who arrange seats for members of the press, set up interviews, provide setlists, proper spelling of band members names, artwork for articles. They work for the clubs and the artists, but in their efforts, they make the life of a reporter so much easier. Without these intelligence operators and the club personnel who care for the press, life would be like pushing a piano uphill. Without a dolly.

Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021
KT Sullivan

The Winds of Change: The Mabel Mercer Foundation and KT Sullivan are community leaders to whom the industry looks for guidance. After vehement outcries that the BIPOC artists of cabaret were underrepresented, Sullivan sat with close friend Natalie Douglas and other BIPOC members of the cabaret community in an open discussion about inclusivity. Determined to lead the charge of evolution, KT led by example, increasing the number of BIPOC artists invited to perform in virtual programs from The Mabel Mercer Foundation and in the annual cabaret convention. By demonstrating the foundation's desire for diversity, KT Sullivan is doing her part as a leader to make cabaret an industry where artists of every demographic - be it race, gender, gender nonconformity, age, and performance - not only feel welcome on every stage, in every room in the industry: they feel like the place at the table was created just for them.

Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021
Marissa Rosen

Marissa Rosen: The Big Voice That Could is one of the pillars upon which the industry of small venue performers stands. Putting her own work aside to focus on supporting others, Rosen can be found at the back-up mic or in the guest artist spot, working with the likes of Kristin Chenoweth, Orfeh, Jessica Vosk, The Skivvies, Marty Thomas, and always elevating the face value and choral quality of each show to which she gives her gifts. Marissa Rosen is, herself, a gift, and one nobody takes for granted.

The Servers: Although it is my custom to trouble the waitstaff not, all of whom know that I require neither food nor drink to do my work, seeing these beautiful people who make up the corps de ballet that cares so diligently for the guests of the clubs always satisfies my heart. They represent the backbone of the industry, for, without the serving of food and drink, a cabaret room is a black box theater. It's in the description: cabaret includes sustenance and libation - and serving people while a show is going on is different than serving them in an ordinary restaurant. It takes finesse, and this writer sees these fine folks working that skill.

Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021
Meg Flather

The Leaders: The industry is built on a community, and though that community can tend to divide into individual families informed by show genres, clubs, and neighborhoods, there remain leaders to whom the artists look for guidance, support, and inspiration. While Sullivan stands for the cabaret art form, Feinstein fights to preserve The Songbook. Myer supports the artist as an entity, Douglas speaks out for her black siblings, Flather gives voice to the women, Lozano leads the LatinX community, Axelrod champions youth entering the business, and with Michael Kushner assuming his new role as programming director at The Green Room 42, LGBTQIA+ artists have an open door to a stage upon which to showcase their stories. These people and more have done more than just enter the industry, they have chosen to work for it and the people who populate it.

Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021
Michael Kirk Lane

Michael Kirk Lane: Just months into the lockdown, Michael Lane was awarded his first MAC Award and elected to the MAC board. During the shutdown, Michael used his social media to promote the crowdfunding pages that saved the Piano Bar community. When the clubs reopened, Lane went right back to work as a concierge at Don't Tell Mama, his longtime New York City nightclub home. While waiting for the reopening of the Laurie Beechman Theatre, MKL served as booking agent for the West Bank Cafe dinner music series. Throughout the last two years, Michael Kirk Lane worked as an interview expert and teaching lecturer for popular virtual series coming out of the 92Y organization. A man who started as a musical comedy performer working the small rooms has become one of the cabaret industry's most industrious champions. And with all that under his belt, it is unquestionably just the beginning for Michael.

Old-World Elegance: This year Feinstein's/54 Below introduced THE DIAMOND SERIES - an all-inclusive nightclub experience that includes cocktails, multiple courses of food service, and an intimate evening with a special artist. The ticket for the event is a little higher than a usual night in a club, but it's completely worth it for the feel of stepping back in time and having a night out that feels like you're in an old MGM movie. Ever since seeing their Laura Benanti Diamond Series show, this writer has been having daydreams about a future lineup that might include the likes of Donna Murphy, Nathan Lane, Sara Ramirez, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jane Krakowski, Billy Porter, Christine Baranski, Antonio Banderas, Ellen Greene, Leslie Odom Jr., Amy Irving, Seth McFarlane, Lea Salonga, Matthew Broderick & Sarah Jessica Parker, and Vanessa Williams. It's enough to make a person go out and buy a silk top hat just for the occasion.

Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021
Ricky Pope

The Correspondents: Pre-pandemic Broadway World Cabaret boasted nine writers. During the pandemic some moved away, some moved on, and some departed this plane altogether. Post-pandemic our team has floated around the number five, but the list of names is not what one might call consistent, since this is a side hustle and BWW Cabaret encourages our writers and photographers to pursue the path of their dreams. As these artists behind a keyboard and a lens have drifted in and out of the Broadway World family, it has been an honor to share in their talent, so generously given to the artists of the small venue performing community and the readers of Broadway World Cabaret.

The High Kick: It isn't a cabaret season without Marilyn Maye coming out on stage, singing "It's Today" and doing at least one high kick... usually three. The High Kick has come to be my most dependable friend.

Feature: A Cabaret Gratitude Journal for 2021

It's a simple thing, gratitude, and one that people might tend to take for granted... hopefully, less now than before March 13th of 2020. Still, old habits (they do say) die-hard, and perhaps the taking for granted of important parts of our day-to-day life may have seeped back into our daily practices. Perhaps not. When it comes to the life and work of a cabaret reporter, this is one fellow who knows when to say thanks, whether it is every day, or just one day a year. For Thanksgiving Day (a day the history of which has become murky in more "woke" times) this guy is happy to see and note these threads in the gratitude tapestry, threads that include the readers of Broadway World Cabaret that give the work that we do over here a purpose.

Enjoy the day, all, and safely. We will see you back here Friday morning when Poinsettias, Dreidels, and Mazao are in season... and holiday shows in every cabaret room for thirty-six days in a row.

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