A sampling of shows by cabaret masters running June through August in the Hamptons

By: May. 13, 2024
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On Tuesday May 7th at 6 pm, Donna Rubin and Josh Gladstone presented a sampling platter of their upcoming Hamptons Summer Songbook by the Sea series. The benefit, held at the Triad Theater in Manhattan, served both to provide an overture of sorts for the summer concert series, as well as raising money for the series’ home, LTV Studios. The series boasts an impressive lineup of cabaret stars. On the May 7th show, we saw preview snippets from seven of them. Not every performer sang songs that they were planning to repeat in their headlining shows this summer, but they were all meant to be representative samples of what the shows would be like, serving as a sort of musical hors d'oeuvres.

Each performer featured at the show has such a distinct personality and performing style; seeing so many masters of the cabaret artform one after another was a treat. Tovah Feldsuh opened the night, with a sneak peak medley from her show, “Aging is Optional (Cause G-d I Hope it is!)” Feldsuh had the crowd in stitches with her “Sylvia Chronic of WYOY” sketch (written by Larry Amoros, arrangement by James Bassi). Feldsuh was wonderfully understated singing “When I Was a Boy” by Dar Williams, and Peter Pan’s “Never Never Land.”

Mark Nadler and KT Sullivan sang selections from their show, Always: The Love Story of Irving Berlin. Nadler accompanied himself on piano. He pointed out how strange it was that the writer of the American classic “White Christmas” did not have English as his first language. “Imagine if he’d never moved here. It would have gone something like this,” Nadler joked, before launching into the song in flawless Yiddish. On the chorus, he added, “OK, now everyone join in,” drawing laughs. Sullivan and Nadler dueted on a medley of Berlin’s romantic songs, quite impressively singing melodies on top of one another at various points.

David Alpern introduced Steve Ross and Karen Murphy, who previewed their show Best of the Versed (Celebrating the opening lines you may not know to tunes you thought you did). They highlighted the verses, which all too often get chopped out of songs when they’re recorded or played in cabarets but help to provide context and ease into the song. They sang Irving Berlin’s “Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Devil” in bubbly counterpoint with each other. Hearing Ross and Murphy, each a master of song in their own right, shine a light on these oft-forgotten verses was delightful.

Mark Singer and Darcy Dunn previewed their show Headliners and One-Liners with an interesting mashup of “Tonight” from West Side Story and “Luck Be a Lady,” two songs that you probably would have never thought could sound like they belong together. Singer joked that they were the least famous people invited to sing at this show. However, the pair is worth seeing. They work with interesting arrangements put together by their music director, Julia Mendelson, who was accompanying on piano. In the “Tonight/Luck Be a Lady” mashup, they swapped the songs back and forth, each singing one first and then trading, switching between the two at the drop of a hat. At points, they sang in counterpoint on top of each other, which, again, is quite technically challenging – but the pair made it look effortless.

Sal Viviano entered from the aisle and walked through the crowd while singing “A Hundred Years from Today,” pausing at each table in Triad’s intimate first floor and singing directly to many of the patrons, connecting with the audience. His show, Perfectly Frank – A Century of Frank Sinatra, celebrates the great singer’s music, with music direction by Alex Rybeck. Viviano had wonderful command of the stage, and got the entire crowd tapping along with the bouncy “You Make Me Feel So Young.”

Anna Bergman (with music director Phil Hall) sang a very funny character number I’d never heard before, Addy Fieger and Francesca Blumenthal’s “Museum,” about a woman who’s found an unusual new way of meeting men, displaying impeccable comedic delivery. Bergman’s show, The Song is You, features “beloved songs from Broadway musicals and films by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Kern, George & Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Alan J. Lerner, Sheldon Harnick, Michel Legrand, Charles Trenet, Franz Lehar, Noel Coward and signature songs for Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich.”

Christine Andreas closed out the show with a preview of Paris to Broadway, which is all about her two favorite places in the world. Music director Martin Silvestri accompanied her. She sang a rousing “Beyond the Sea” in flawless French, a somber “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” which Hammerstein and Kern wrote about an American evacuating Paris during the war. Andreas’s final number was a bouncy “He Loves Me” (by Harnick and Bock), full of heart.

Although no performers were quite anything alike each other, they do all have one thing in common: glorious command of their own voices, an innate ability to connect with an audience, and a perspective packaged into a carefully thought out show.

If you’re in the Hamptons this summer, you can learn more about the full LTV Studios lineup of shows on their website.

You can make a donation to LTV Studios online here.

(Header photo courtesy of Donna Rubin)


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