On my journey to break into Chicago cabaret, I’ve reached a turning in the road.
At the end of 1980’s I studied with James Followell in NYC in a song performance workshop. At that time I was looking for help with my musical theatre audition pieces and exploring how I might develop my own cabaret act. I eventually put my cabaret ambitions on the back burner, but I always remembered how beneficial it was to study with a musical director / performance coach in a group setting. So when I encountered Claudia Hommel and SongShop in Chicago, I was hoping that I might find similar benefits within that context. Last summer I audited a master class led by Claudia and was favorably impressed with the process and the participants.
So last month I was delighted to get Claudia’s invitation to join SongShop and I have been attending regularly. I see SongShop as a wonderful place to hone new material and to perfect work which is already underway. It is also an opportunity to gain additional performance experience. The group does periodic showcase performances and I will be taking part in the April 25, 2014 edition. There will be more on this process and my plans for SongShop to come.
At the same time, as I mentioned previously, I threw my hat in the ring for “Strut Your Stuff,” a showcase that Chicago Cabaret Professionals produces a couple times each year. The edition which will appear in May is going to be directed by Nick Sula and I have been invited to participate. This is a great opportunity for me to introduce myself to the Chicago cabaret world at a prestigious level.
The theme for SongShop’s showcase is The Trip of Your Life and I plan to perform my personal favorite “I Want To Go Home” from Cole Porter’s Leave It To Me (which I performed off-Broadway in NY) together with “Big Rock Candy Mountain” a selection from my Season of Plenty program which is an opportunity to pay homage to Pete Seeger and to celebrate my identification with Burl Ives. Claudia and the group are supportive of these choices but the work is still in development.
For Strut I want to take an opportunity to play my strong suit so I plan to present myself in the character villain vein which I discussed here on Feb. 14, 2012 in the “Cole Porter and Me” post. I want to open with “Me” from Boy Meets Boy, Clarence Cutler’s opening number which is sly and sophisticated ostentation: a good place to start. And I’ll close with “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” by Tom Lehrer, wickedly funny and graceful all at once.
My other number is up in the air (I have only 10-12 minutes to work with). But I’m going to explore doing “Please Don’t Make Me Be Good” a selection from my Wilde and Woolley song list. It’s a 1920’s show tune in 2/4 which will blend nicely with “Me.” And it could be both a chance to introduce my interest in gay oriented material (it is written for female POV, but performed with original pronouns, hence male to male). It represents an audacious and fun cry from the closeted heart. It could also be an advertisement for my future cabaret plans.
I will be sharing much more about this process in future posts.