By Don Church and Tony Schillaci, Critics On The Aisle ™
Where in the universe can you ever see so many Broadway and cabaret stars than in five remarkable performances, along with the most promising stars of the tomorrow, at the Iseman Theater in New Haven this summer.
For the 10th consecutive year, New York impresario Erv Raible is bringing his International Cabaret Conference and public concerts to Yale University, July 28th through August 4th.
He has selected gifted students from around the world, through intense auditions, to be coached by an award-winning faculty and renowned consultants. Auditions have been held in Atlanta, Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Jerusalem, London UK, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New Orleans, New York, Seattle, Toronto, and Washington DC.
The educational part of this prestigious event is a collaborative process of critical refining and honing of their entertainment skills and talents. It’s an intensive nine-day program in the art of cabaret performance and trains professionals for the stage. It includes classes and lectures covering cabaret performance technique: acting for singers, lyric interpretation, focus and concentration, act structure, act writing, material research, and comedic development.
The Great American Songbook is featured in its entirety, from its origins in the late 19th century through the classic pop standards of the 1930s and ’40s to today’s contemporary cabaret, musical theater, jazz, country and pop music.
In an exclusive phone interview with Erv Raible, at his home in Manhattan, we learned that many of last year’s ‘star’ faculty members will be returning this time around, including Tony-winner Faith Prince. He said, “Some will be teaching and presenting their own well-honed intimate shows, while others will be exclusively training young show-biz hopefuls in the art of great cabaret performance.”
In his infectious enthusiasm Erv added, “One of the many outstanding performances is Sunday the 29th, when the participating cabaret stars each take a turn on stage. On Saturday August 4 the students will present their finale, ‘Stars Of Tomorrow,’ giving them the opportunity to shine collectively and individually.”
Legendary cabaret star Julie Wilson, who is also on the faculty, said “the students are so gifted and enthusiastic. I don’t actually teach them. I just tell them the story of my career, and what to expect when they enter the real world of show business.
Ms. Wilson, throughout her long star career, was one of the most popular headliners in cabaret, Broadway, London’s West End and a best-selling recording artist in the 40s and 50s. At 86, she’s still a glamorous and charismatic personality as a master teacher at Yale. The cabaret audiences will often see her quietly take her seat in the audience, but her star-quality aura captures everyone’s eye.
Although the public will miss seeing the performing talents of such luminaries as faculty members Julie Wilson, Carol Hall and Tex Arnold, who will be spending all their valuable time with the students, audiences will be treated to shows by Faith Prince, Sally Mayes, Amanda McBroom, Sharon McNight and Jeff Harnar with accompaniment by piano virtuosos Alex Rybeck and Ian Herman.
Faith Prince has been dazzling Broadway audiences since she swept the major theatre awards winning the Tony, Drama Desk (DD) and Outer Critics Circle Awards (OCC) for her performance as Miss Adelaide in the critically-acclaimed revival of Guys and Dolls. In 2008, she was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for A Catered Affair. Other Broadway credits include The Little Mermaid, Bells Are Ringing (Tony, DD, OCC nominations), Nick & Nora (OCC Award), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (Tony, DD nominations), Little Me, The Dead, Noises Off. We can personally attest that her show-stopping cabaret shows never fail to earn thundering applause and cheers.
Sharon McNight was a Tony Award-nominee for Best Leading Actress In A Musical, and was the recipient of the coveted Theatre World A ward for Outstanding Broadway Debut in “Starmites,” which was presented to her by Carol Channing. We’ve been avid fans for more than thirty years, ever since she brought down the house singing and playing every major character in her wildly funny version of “The Wizard of Oz” in twenty-two-and-a-half minutes!
Sally Mayes’s most recent critical acclaim comes from Broadway’s Urban Cowboy (Drama Desk Nomination). Sally has appeared on Broadway in She Loves Me (1993) Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk nominations), Welcome To The Club (Theater World Award, Outer Critics Circle nomination), and the national tour of Dirty Blonde. Off-Broadway she has appeared in Pete ‘N’ Keely (2001 Drama Desk nomination), Closer Than Ever (Outer Critics Circle nomination).
Amanda McBroom has been called “The greatest cabaret performer of her generation, an urban poet who writes like an angel and has a voice to match.” Her name first came to the attention of the music public when Bette Midler’s version of Amanda’s song “The Rose” hit number one all over the world in 1979. But it was Amanda’s performance of this song on the Golden Globes (she won), Grammys (she didn’t) and The Tonight Show that launched her career as a singer, as well as songwriter. Her songs have been recorded by Bette Midler, Leanne Rimes, Barry Manilow, Judy Collins, Anne Murray, Harry Belafonte, Stephanie Mills, The Manhattan Transfer, Donny Osmond, the Chipmunks, and the baby dinosaurs in the movie, “Land Before Time.”
Jeff Harnar is a two-time winner of the Manhattan Association of Cabaret Award (MAC) as Best Male Vocalist and three times been honored with the BackStage Bistro Award (Newcomer, Male Vocalist, Best Show). His performing career began as a television commercial jingle-singer at the ripe old-age of 10. Jeff’s early career also includes performing at Opryland USA. His fine baritone voice and love of Broadway musicals has led to a successful cabaret career in Manhattan, and around the country and overseas.
Alex Rybeck is a virtuoso pianist, composer and arranger renowned for his work in theater, cabaret and recordings. Alex’s Broadway credits include: Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, Tommy Tune’s Grand Hotel and the hit revival of Damn Yankees. Highly praised by Burt Bacharach, Alex conducted the New York workshop and San Diego premiere of What The World Needs Now. Alex’s concert and cabaret credits include working with: Tommy Tune, Faith Prince, Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway, Lee Roy Reams, Metropolitan Opera star Roberta Peters, Rita Gardner of Fantasticks fame, the legendary Kitty Carlisle Hart, and Marnie Nixon, the ”voice of the Hollywood stars.”
The Iseman Theater at Yale has 200 seats. It’s advisable to purchase tickets now because the public concerts are among the most popular theatrical events of the year. And the audience gets to mix and mingle with the stars in the lobby following each performance. For more information, go to www.thecabaretconferenceatyale.com
If you go…
10th Anniversary International Cabaret
Conference and public performances at Yale
July 28 – Jeff Hamar & Sally Mayes
July 29 – All-star facility concert
Aug. 2 – Faith Prince & Sharon McNight
Aug. 3 – Amanda McBroom & Linn Maxwell
Aug. 4 – Cabaret Stars of Tomorrow
The Iseman Theater 1156 Chapel Street, New Haven, Conn.
$35. general admission $25. seniors