by Don Church & Tony Schillaci
One of the Northeast Corridor’s most anticipated summer events is cabaret season at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford on Long Island Sound. Its sweeping lawns – great for a pre-theater picnic with a water view – its charming theaters: an old red-barn, a sunken-garden, the Dina Merrill (cabaret venue), and open-air bleachers under the trees. And remarkably low ticket price (listed below) make this an irresistible theatrical attraction. Take it from us, in past years we have been to the O’Neill for some of the best cabaret acts ever……for instance, Sharon McNight (the only woman in the world who can sing the entire score of “The Wizard of Oz” in about 22 minutes!) to many other acclaimed headliners.
This year’s theme, “Let Yourself Go,” a phrase from an Irving Berlin song, is an invitation from the cabaret’s artistic director, Michael Bush, to “become part of the creation and performance of ten wildly eclectic and diverse evenings of the most innovative ‘cabaret theater’ in America today.”
Michael says that “one of the great things about ‘cabaret’ is its intimacy. Our performances require the fuel of an audience’s interaction to spark and catch fire. It is that connection between artist and audience that is the essence of what we do at the [O’Neill Cabaret] conference.” He added, “This summer’s programming is the best ever!”
The cabaret season begins on 8:00 p. m., Wednesday, July 29th with the annual opening ceremonies and performances. It’s an admission-free evening that previews the upcoming ten nights of entertainment and gives the audience a chance to meet the artists.
Thursday, July 30 at 8:00 p.m. World-renowned cabaret artist Mary Cleere Haran presents an evening of song. She has received critical acclaim comparing her singing to Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney. She has brought her witty, musically sophisticated cabaret act to Rainbow & Stars in New York and LA’s Cinegrille, among other top clubs in the country. She’s received rave reviews in People Magazine and The New York Times, among others. She’s also a noted writer: PBS’s “Great Performances” and “The Great American Songbook.”
Friday, July 31 at 8:00 p. m. Join Tony- nominee and Emmy-winner Penny Fuller, two-time Tony-nominee Tony Roberts (Broadway’s Dividing the Estate and Barefoot in the Park) for an evening of song.
Saturday, August 1 at 8:00 p. m 2009 Cabaret Fellows – “Evening One: A performance by the 2009 Cabaret Fellows” – hand-picked, up-and-coming artists.
Sunday, August 2 at 7:30 p. m. Two tickets for the price of one! An evening of two cabaret acts! Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, and Jeff Bowen (the cast of Broadway’s “[title of show]” developed at the 2005 Cabaret and Performance Conference) who will be presenting a new work in-progress – plus the songs of Tony Award-winning Edward Kleban, lyricist of “A Chorus Line.”
Tuesday, August 4 at 8:00 p. m. Broadway leading man and four-time Tony-nominee Gregg Edelman, (Wonderful Town and City of Angels) presents an evening of song.
Wednesday, August 5 at 8:00 p. m. Paul Scott Goodman, who wrote the music, book, and lyrics for the Off-Broadway smash-hit “Rooms: A Rock Romance” presents his new work, “Easterhouse.” This piece is presented in cooperation with the National Music Theater Conference.
Thursday, August 6 at 8:00 p. m. 2009 Cabaret Fellows – “Evening Two – A performance by Cabaret Fellows,” the hand-picked, up and coming performers are back to show how much they’ve progressed in honing their craft since “Evening One.”
Friday, August 7 at 8:00 p. m. “Secrets of Songwriting:” a musical about four very different female songwriters in Nashville, written by Michael Aman and Randi Michaels Block.
Saturday, August 8 at 8:00 p. m. Grand Finale. Artists and fellows perform. Don’t miss forty-four performers make this a spectacular once-in-lifetime event!
After each show, Michael Bush will host the now infamous Open Mic sessions, except for the opening celebration and the Grand Finale.
Now for more good theater news! General admission is only $25 a show – except the Grand Finale. And even better news is that you can get one ticket at a four-person table – including a bottle of wine for the table for $30. And two tickets at a table for two and a bottle of wine for $65. Cabaret Grand Finale Spectacular prices: Two-person table with wine $95. One seat at a four- person table with wine $45. General admission $30. This spectacular show always sells out quickly.
The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, 305 Great Neck Road, Waterford, CT. Tickets: 860-443-1238 or online at www.theoneill.org