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BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number OneThe city of New York, contrary to stories that have been circulating, has not been put on lockdown. Yes, Broadway is closed, much of off-Broadway has shut down, many of the nightclubs and cabarets have closed, concert halls, symphony spaces - a lot of people are left with nowhere to perform, and many New Yorkers are imposing a self-quarantine on themselves, this writer included. Through their social media, though, the performers who make up the cabaret community of New York City are reaching out to their public to inspire, and even to keep their bills paid. Guitarist/singer extraordinaire, Sean Harkness performed a live living room concert via Facebook Live and viewers were able to tip him via his Paypal and Venmo accounts (including this writer), Telly Leung and Alice Ripley will be doing the same on March 16th. Other artists should be actively considering the same thing because it is a way to stay in touch with fans, friends, the outside world, and it can keep a little cash coming in.

In the meantime, without shows to see and review, this cabaret journalist is determined to inspire our Broadway World readers in some way and today at dawn, as I logged on to The Facebook Machine, I saw that cabaret diva Sally Mayes had shared on her social media a BA-RILLIANT video of fellow diva Liz Callaway driving around New York City singing one of my very favorite songs, the Stephen Schwartz quiet anthem "Beautiful City" and it sparked in me an idea. Starting today, while there are people confined (whether voluntarily or by mandate) I will, regularly, share a new Pandemic Playlist. I will share information about the artists of the cabaret community and a video displaying that which makes them special. While fans of the artform are sitting around at home, they can still experience the work of these fine craftspeople and learn a little about them so that when the clubs are, once again, open for business, people will have an idea of where to go, what to see, and whose art really grooves them.

And what better place to start than Liz Callaway?

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One1. Liz Callaway is one of the great voices of Broadway. She was a Tony Award nominee for the musical BABY and any time she sings her magnum opus from that show "The Story Goes On" the crowds weep and cheer. Possibly most famous for being the singing voice in the animated film Anastasia, Liz has voiced many animated films and is currently one of the most in-demand concert performers in the business. She frequently plays small venues in solo shows or shows with her sister, revered jazz musician Ann Hampton-Callaway, their most frequent Manhattan venue being FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW. Liz Callaway can be found online at her website and her sublimely perfect car recording of "Beautiful City" can be seen HERE

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One2. Clearly Now is a relatively New Group comprised of Lina Koutrakos (ladies first, gentlemen), Sean Harkness and Marcus Simeone (alphabetical order). Koutrakos, Harkness, and Simeone all have flourishing careers as singers, though Harkness is well-known as one of the premier guitarists in the business and Koutrakos one of the most oft-requested directors. Though Clearly Now plays all around town and frequently out of NYC, their regular haunts seem to be the cabaret rooms at DON'T TELL MAMA and PANGEA. Three consummate artists on their own with a slew of MAC Awards (6 MACS each), the powerhouse performers joined forces because everything is a little more fun with friends, and speaking of friends, see their stunning "With a Little Help From My Friends" HERE and find each one online at their websites: Lina Sean Marcus

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One3. Ben Moss is a singer-songwriter, an actor, a musical director, and one of the most engaging people in the business. He has worked on Broadway three times and spends a lot of his year working in regional theater and off-Broadway, as well as in the clubs of New York. Prolifically active on his social media, Moss did a 30-day songwriting challenge in November of 2019 and the wealth of songs he created turned into a monthly residency at The Duplex titled Ben Moss AND FRIENDS. Ben's website is HERE and this is one of this writer's favorites of his original works, "You Loved Me The Most."

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One4. Kyra Kennedy is an actress with a lot of theater on her resume, most notably the national tour of Waitress, in which she was the Jenna/Dawn understudy. Other shows on her roster are Gypsy, Hair, Spring Awakening, and Legally Blonde. It is interesting that she did the show Waitress because the first time this writer saw her she was in a group show at THE GREEN ROOM 42 called Broadway Sings Sara Bareilles and she was not the singer performing "She Used to Be Mine" - she, instead, sang "Manhattan" and this music lover has been scanning the cabaret calendars ever since, looking for any performance she does, and praying to the cabaret gods for a Kyra Kennedy solo show. Visit Kyra's website HERE and see the performance of "Manhattan" that made me memorize her name HERE

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One5. Cassi Mikat and Jayson Kerr (ladies first, as always) are colleagues and friends who work as part of the staff at FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW while pursuing their acting careers. One of the highlights of the cabaret year in 2019 was the 54 Below staff show in which they sang a little Stephen Sondheim for Halloween. Mr. Kerr, a musical theater actor with a nice resume of regional theater productions, seems to have good luck lending his big baritone to Andrew Lloyd Webber shows. Ms. Mikat is a powerful singing actress from a musical family who uses her social media to speak out for equality in casting for women, a cause that needs spokespersons. Her resume shows her to be a character actress but her on-stage presence is that of a leading lady. One hopes that both Ms. Mikat and Mr. Kerr will mount solo shows soon and a glace at their performance of "A Little Priest" will show why. See their websites at Jayson and Cassi

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One6. Jeremy Jordan has become one of the most famous actors on the scene today with devoted fans flocking to his shows on Broadway and in the clubs. His shows sell out months in advance and after his most recent show "Carry On" it is clear why: Jeremy Jordan is using his work in cabaret to break barriers and redefine the art form. Presenting, on cabaret stages, works more distinctly labeled one-man plays, Jordan does that to which all artists should strive: he walks up on the stage and opens a vein. One of the great thrills this writer has had in recent years was seeing him at Town Hall when he stepped away from the mic and sang "Bring Him Home." Find Jeremy Jordan online at his website (photo by Kristin Pulido)

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One7. Lisa Viggiano celebrated 20 years in cabaret last year and in those years she has played every nightclub in New York City, garnering praise and love and many accolades. Originally wishing to be a rock singer but having a background in musical theater, Viggiano has combined her love of both styles of music in personalized shows that inform audiences of who she is and what she is about. Her mind always creating a new show, Lisa Viggiano does more with her voice training than entertain, daily, when she goes to work as a speech pathologist, working with young people greatly in need. Intelligent, incomparable and irresistible, Viggiano has been compared to the late, great Nancy LaMott and, surprise, here she is showing why by singing LaMott's classic, "We Can Be Kind." Find Lisa online HERE

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One8. THOSE GIRLS is the girl group made up of females who are all women. Eve Eaton, Rachel Hanser, Karen Mack, and Wendy Russell are all spectacular singers and they should each do a solo show at least once every other year, but when these four women join forces it's like some comic book superhero collective sent to save the world through groovy rhythms, tight harmonies, and infectious attitude. Each of them a very apparent individual, all stand out, none get lost, and the group rises to the top as they play many clubs around town, most recently The Laurie Beechman THEATRE. Nobody leaves a THOSE GIRLS show without being made happier than they walk in. Here is their website and here they are in action at the MAC Awards doing a wonderfully unique "Heave On The Bowline."

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One9. Ari Axelrod is the future of cabaret. He is shaking things up by not only bringing his youthful exuberance into the nightclubs but his social consciousness, in-your-face honesty, and young students from his ongoing workshop Bridging The Gap. He is going to single-handedly infuse the longtime art of cabaret with new blood and a new outlook, but always with a focus on his favorite music, The Great American Songbook. In his show A CELEBRATION OF JEWISH BROADWAY, he has proven that he was born to play in cabaret and the people are already sitting up and taking notice. Just look at his version of this classic Bernstein/Sondheim tune from West Side Story Find Ari Axelrod online at his website or at THE BIRDLAND THEATER, where he has found a regular home these days.

BWW Feature: Stephen Mosher's Pandemic Playlist Number One10. Natalie Douglas is a force of nature. If one were giving out crowns for cabaret royalty she would definitely have one. At her artistic home of BIRDLAND, she puts on ten different shows a year in her TRIBUTES series and every single performance is sold out. When not standing on the big stage at Birdland, Douglas takes her inestimable talent to stages all around the world and all one need do is look at her rendition of "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" to understand why - but what you don't get from the video is how much fun she is when talking about the songs she is singing. With an unforgettable giggle and an unfathomable wealth of knowledge, Natalie Douglas is The Living End. Check out her website here and that Roberta Flack tribute HERE

Please check back daily to see learn more about the artists of the world of cabaret and concerts. There might be a Pandemic Playlist, a feature story, or an interview, but I promise, until the clubs are open again I will continue to make the art of cabaret available to any Broadway World reader who wants to read about it.


Stephen Mosher, Editor, Broadway World Cabaret

All photos by Stephen Mosher except Jeremy Jordan.

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