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Paulanne Simmons

They'll be Coming to the Cabaret… Again


Jack Noseworthy

Town Hall's 2nd Annual Cabaret Festival
Created by Scott Siegel
Town Hall
123 West 43rd St.
Oct. 20 8 p.m., Oct. 21 8 p.m., Oct. 22 3 p.m.
$50 & $45 ticketmaster.com
Preview by Paulanne Simmons

Last year Town Hall produced its first Broadway Cabaret Festival, written and hosted by Scott Siegel, the creator of Town Hall's long-running series, Broadway by the Year. This year they're doing it again, and Siegel says the cabaret festival was so successful last year there isn't much he needs to change.

"Doing three back-to-back shows for the first time was an enormous challenge," said Siegel. "The fact that it went off as well as it did was a relief as well as a joy. The rave reviews in The New York Times was icing on the cake."

The three shows this year will be "Music Is in the Air: A Tribute to Jerome Kern" on Friday October 20, ""Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley Sing Broadway!" on Saturday, October 21, and "Broadway Originals!" on Sunday October 22.

Each of the shows has a unique character that Siegel believes will appeal to both seasoned and novice theater-goers. "Music Is in the Air" paints a "large but single canvas," "Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley Sing Broadway!" features "today's Broadway stars" singing contemporary and classic songs, and "Broadway Originals!" is made up of "small pictures from all of Broadway."

Although Kern wrote over 1,000 songs and 100 complete scores including the ground-breading "Showboat," Siegel believes "there are lots of songs people don't know are his."

"He hasn't been performed that much. It's time we went back to the source," he added.

The tribute will feature such notables as Cady Huffman ("The Producers"), Lari White ("Ring of Fire"), Stephen Bogardus ("Love, Valour, Compassion!" and Michel Bell ("Showboat").

"Michel Bell is doing me a favor," Siegel said. "He's scheduled to perform on a cruise ship, but he's staying in New York for the show, and he's going to catch up with the boat in Newport."

Siegel feels equally fortunate in bringing together Skinner and Ripley, the two leading ladies who played the conjoined Hilton sisters in "Sideshow" (1997). Unlike the sisters, Skinner and Ripley went their separate ways after producing two ‘CDs. This is the first time they'll be together again in many years.

"Broadway Originals!," which features Broadway stars singing the songs they sang in original productions, is also a fundraiser, so it is particularly important to Siegel. He said last year's show was "a real winner," and "we're going to keep doing it until we run out of originals."

This year the show will trace fifty years of Broadway history. Those who enjoyed seeing the likes of Mary Testa, Joanna Gleason, Helen Gallagher and Liz Callaway create classic Broadway roles will now have the chance to see them once again in those roles. And those who are fans of Town Hall's Broadway by the Year veterans like Noah Racey, will have the opportunity to see him onstage with a different group of performers.

Siegel, a well-known pop culture critic, who, with his wife Barbara, writes columns for Theater-mania.com and Talkin' Broadway.com, will sprinkle the shows with Broadway facts and information, or what he calls "entertaining cocktail chatter."

Last year all three shows were sold out and Siegel expects the same this year.

"Having the opportunity to see so many talented people on the sage at one time is extraordinary," he says. "Especially at such a reasonable price."

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