Feature: New York City Cabaret Convention Goes Virtual With Four Nights Of Entertainment

The Mabel Mercer Foundation Keeps Annual Tradition Alive.

By: Oct. 08, 2020

Feature: New York City Cabaret Convention Goes Virtual With Four Nights Of Entertainment

Thirty times the Mabel Mercer Foundation has presented its New York Cabaret Convention. That's thirty times that the art form of cabaret has been celebrated in the public eye, thirty times the artists of the community have seen their work praised and promoted, thirty times that devoted fans like Artie Olaisen have planned their week around a few days (in town or out of town). The Cabaret Convention is, to aficionados of the industry, as Fashion Week is to fashionistas. There are those who plan their whole year around it.

And there almost wasn't a thirty-first year.

There is, though, this woman. Well, some would call her a woman, others would call her a diva. Some people call her a goddess, others call her a Force. What KT Sullivan is, though, is a friend. Ms. Sullivan is a friend to the community, to the industry, and to every artist who wants to perform in a cabaret, a nightclub, a piano bar, a comedy room, or a concert venue. It is true that this "beautiful blonde soprano" - as Natalie Douglas refers to her - has her focus on the music side of the industry, and why not, as music has been her life for as long as she or anyone else can remember; that does not, though, mean that her offstage focus does not capably branch out in many different directions. KT concerns herself with every person working in cabaret, from the musicians to the designers, from the writers to the directors, and, as she said in a recent Broadway World interview, she is working to expand the scope of the industry and the Convention, under the umbrella of The Mabel Mercer Foundation, where she has been a community leader for eight years, as the Artistic Director. It is with that expansion of ideas that Ms. Sullivan stepped, firmly, into the age of modern technology when she decided that there would be NO missed season of The Cabaret Convention in 2020, and the first-ever Virtual Cabaret Convention was planned.

Feature: New York City Cabaret Convention Goes Virtual With Four Nights Of Entertainment

October 19th through the 22nd cabaret fans from all over the world can tune in to see KT introduce four different themed nights of entertainment. Each evening will celebrate a specific aspect of cabaret history and performance, with the first three nights being streamed free of charge. To be clear: FREE OF CHARGE. Viewers simply go to the Mabel Mercer Foundation HERE to see a different roster of performers each night (also to be clear - as in most instances these days, the artistic institutions of the world are without income and hurting, and any donations that viewers would like to contribute to the evening and the foundation are not only greatly appreciated, they are politely encouraged). Showtimes for the streaming events on October 19, 20, and 21 will be at 7 pm ET. The fourth night of entertainment will be streamed at 7 pm ET on October 22nd, right here on Broadway World - this night of performances has a ticket price of twenty dollars (there is a handling fee) and will be streamed from the legendary jazz venue Birdland.

Sullivan and the Foundation have been hard at work for the last few weeks, lining up talent (which is always subject to change) and filming them in performances specially created for the event (a wise move, given some of the live-streaming snafus we have all seen, these last seven months) and preparing the four-night broadcast. Here are the evenings, so meticulously planned:

Monday, October 19 - NEW YORK CABARET: YESTERDAY AND TODAY: Featuring performances by Stephanie Blythe, Ann Hampton Callaway, Aisha de Haas, Natalie Douglas, Shana Farr, Eric Yves Garcia, David LaMarr, Marissa Mulder, Sidney Myer, Mark Nadler, Karen Oberlin, Daryl Sherman, Larry Woodard, and Amra-Faye Wright. The evening will also feature reminiscences from past convention participants like Karen Akers, Klea Blackhurst, Jeff Harnar, Andrea Marcovicci, Karen Mason, and Steve Ross. There will be a special presentation to Ms. Blythe, who made her Cabaret Convention debut in 2019, which will feature an appearance by Miss Sandy Stewart.

Tuesday, October 20 - THE FUTURE OF CABARET: Mabel Mercer Foundation board members Adela and Larry Elow created an Endowment Fund specifically to encourage teenagers to learn and perform The Great American Songbook, as composed between the years 1900 and 1970. Participants are nominated from pupils who attend New York City public performing arts high schools. This evening focuses on young artists who competed this year and in past years, including competition winners Savannah Lee Henry (2020), Anais Reno (2019), Christina Jimenez (2018), and finalists Leonay Shepherd, Jennifer Poroye, Julia Parasram, Kylie McNeill, Thomas Hogan, and rising star Hannah Jane.

Wednesday, October 21 - A WORLD OF CABARET: This evening celebrates international performances from across the US and from Amsterdam, the Cayman Islands, London, and Sydney, featuring appearances by Joie Bianco, Leanne Borghesi, Carole J. Bufford, Tim Draxl, Josie Foster, Jaedyn Hanna, Hans Pieter Herman, Christian Holder, Nicolas King, Marilyn Maye, Amanda McBroom, Tammy McCann, Colindra-Rodericka McGarvey-Sterling, Maureen McGovern, Beckie Menzie & Tom Michael, Jennifer Sheehan, Deborah Silver, Avery Sommers, and Iris Williams.

Thursday, October 22 - CABARET CLASSICS: PERFORMING FROM BIRDLAND: Some of the industry greats were recently filmed at Birdland, just for this event. Stars to be seen include Karen Akers, Christine Andreas, Eric Comstock, Natalie Douglas, Barbara Fasano, Jeff Harnar, Karen Mason, Steve Ross, Billy Stritch, and KT Sullivan. There will be a special presentation to Mr. Ross on this night.

Viewers can register for October 19, 20, 21 at the link HERE

Viewers can purchase tickets for October 22 at the link HERE

The first three nights of The Cabaret Convention will be available for streaming-viewing for twenty-four hours at The Mabel Mercer Foundation website HERE but the final night of the convention can only be seen in real-time, so audience members should plan around the limited availability of that broadcast.

As the days wind down toward The 31st Annual Cabaret Convention - Virtual Edition, Ms. Sullivan and co. (Rick Meadows, Jason Martin, John Fricke, and most essentially production director/videographer Chinua Thomas) are busily putting the final touches on every detail of the event, even as Sullivan herself takes time out to perform for live audiences at the West Bank Cafe on 42nd Street, amidst proper Coronavirus safety procedures, as KT accompanies HERSELF on the piano! It's a new (and exciting) change for the nightclub veteran to be playing her own shows, but, as all of show business is learning (and the rest of the world, frankly) these are times of change. For KT, The Mabel Mercer Foundation, and The Cabaret Convention, change is welcome, and that change is going to make a lot of people happy, starting October 19th.

In a statement recently, Ms. Sullivan offered: "It was just a month ago that the Foundation determined that - pandemic or not - we'd find a safe and wonderful means of making possible the 31st annual Convention. You can tell by the list of performers how much enthusiastic cooperation we've received. We also have to acknowledge the club owners, world-wide, who vitally believe in cabaret and want to bring it back to life. These will be acknowledged on the show nights, but here in NYC, we've already filmed at Birdland, Don't Tell Mama, The Duplex, Iridium, Pangea, and The West Bank Cafe. Thanks to our chairman of our board, Charles Bullock, and his wife, Susanne, we were even able to record 'on location' in our offices, given their overwhelming gift of a beautiful baby grand piano last year."

Visit the Mabel Mercer Foundation website HERE

Photo of KT Sullivan by Eric Stephen Jacobs

Feature: New York City Cabaret Convention Goes Virtual With Four Nights Of Entertainment