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Calling all the Single Ladies (and men)

Find new ways to promote your show.

Cabaret shows are not known for their exorbitant marketing budgets. Cabaret performers/producers (often the same person) combine precious advertising dollars with local signage (posters) and online marketing (email & social media sites).

While the artist in you would like the show to sell purely on artistic merit  - your reputation and great word of mouth publicity from your performances, if your season is a week long or less there isn’t much time for word of mouth to gain momentum.

Enter the Purple Cow. Seth Godin introduced the marketing term for building an element into your product that is so unique or extraordinary that people can’t help but talk about it.

What are potential barriers that might prevent someone buying a ticket to your show? 

  • they don’t know about it
  • they don’t see the value in it
  • they’ve got noone to go with

Let’s look at the third ‘barrier’. I think that finding someone who will attend a show with you is a significant element in the chain of events from finding out about a show to booking a ticket.

What if you turn purchasing a single ticket into an advantage? Events often offer discounts for group bookings, or family groups. What if you reversed that and made it financially advantageous to purchase a single ticket?

Devise creative ways to explain it.

  1. If you’re coming on your own - there’s noone to share the cost of the carpark with you.
  2. You’re (more likely) buying wine by the glass rather than buy the bottle.


This could be your purple cow. Your show offers cheaper prices to singles. For example:


Ticket prices:

Singles (solo ticket) $25

Couples (pair of tickets) $60

Note to singles: You’re invited to a mixer at the bar 30 mins before the show begins with discounted drinks and the chance to work out who you do and don’t want to sit next to for the next hour.

This is not a dating service - however if you arrive as a single and leave as a couple please let me know so I can use it as material in my next show.


Suddenly there’s a new aspect to your production for people to talk about. “Did you hear about the show that offers cheaper tickets to…” With any luck the buzz will spread beyond your existing network - potentially leading to some free coverage in your local media (newspaper/radio).


If you use this or create your own purple cow I’d love to hear about it. Comment below or email


If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here. 


3 Ways to Use Technology in Cabaret

Two nights ago in Sydney, the 2015 Your Theatrics International Cabaret Competition was won by Michaela Burger with a unique blend of old and new.

Michaela Burger YTICC 2015 Winner


Michaela showcased highlights from her show ‘Exposing Edith’ - presenting the ‘old’ story and songs of the French chanteuse using new technology and performance techniques. I wasn’t in Sydney for the final, but I’d seen Michaela two weeks earlier at the competition’s heat in Adelaide. With the rest of the audience, I was transfixed by her powerful voice, the way she worked with her collaborator and guitarist Greg Wain and their use of delay and loop pedals to create a swirl of other-worldly sounds. In the short set she demonstrated the use of a loop pedal to layer vocals and build to a powerful ending of her first song before borrowing Greg’s amplified acoustic guitar and singing into the hollow of the instrument and using his pickup to amplify her voice in a spectacularly ethereal sound. 

What other ways can cabaret artists use new technologies to enhance our traditional art of presenting material in a direct and intimate way that connects directly with a live audience?

1. Experimenting with new technology on stage.

The use of loop pedals isn’t brand new in this context. CabaretConfessional discussed Darren Percival’s use of such effects back in 2010 here but Burger has found a way to integrate this technology into her performance in a way that doesn’t feel like a gimmick. What other new sounds can be brought to the cabaret stage - new instruments or innovative ways of shaping sounds that we are already familiar with. 

Barb Jungr is exacting about quality of sound both when it comes to her live and recorded performances. With her experience in recording and in all manner of live settings she uses the amplified nature of her live sound to shape soundscapes which are just as much a part of her storytelling as her fresh interpretations of familiar lyrics. 

Cabaret performers don’t always have the luxury of touring with their own sound engineer, but there are elements you can control from the stage and if you work regularly in certain rooms you can collaborate with the venue tech to develop the aural world in which your performance exists.

2. Using technology to connect with new audiences. 

Sure - we all send emails to our friends and mailing list when we have a performance coming up. There are the obligatory ‘Coming soon’ and ‘I’m so busy - only 2 days left until my performance at…” posts of Facebook and Twitter but what techniques can we learn from others that we can apply to our own marketing and promotion?

Don’t wait until you have a show coming up in two weeks time to start hustling an audience. Engage with your friends and fans regularly and build a community who are interested in what you do and are eagerly awaiting the next opportunity to come and share in your live performance. Amanda Palmer is an excellent example of an artist who is consistently engaging with the audience that have come to previous performances, know her through her recorded work and have discovered her through her presence on social media.

The audience for cabaret is bigger than your personal email list, Facebook Page ‘likes’ and Twitter follower count. Why not engage with other performers you know and admire and share the cabaret love? Set up a network of ten cabaret performers who share your market-space and agree to enthusiastically promote each other’s shows. Awareness of your upcoming show could increase ten-fold!

Make a note of websites where you read articles about cabaret performers and shows and reach out to them about your latest project. Maybe you’ll get a featured profile, a review, or perhaps something about your work will fit in with a piece they already have in the pipeline. Once again, supporting other elements of the cabaret community only helps in building the network effect.

3. Sharing your performance with the world.

Most of you will have posted youtube clips of your show and these are a great record of past performances and can be useful to refer back to. 

Live streaming technology has advanced to the point where it’s now conceivable that fans who can’t make it to your venue (be they interstate, at home with the kids, or manning a Chinese spy satellite) can now watch your show and be part of your virtual audience in real time. recently partnered with the Metropolitan Room in New York to broadcast all sixty hours of their Guinness World Record making Variety Marathon - an achievement of epic proportions. 

Performers such as Christine Lavin, Jim Caruso, Billy Stritch and Marilyn Maye have broadcast what may be the ultimate in intimate performances - from their living room direct to yours - via

Jim described his first concert window show as a “rousing success”. “We did it from Billy’s apartment, and had people from all over the world watching, chatting and requesting (songs)! It was so easy.” They have done subsequent performances which are always fun - and a great way to reach their out-of-town fan base.

Concert Window have just announced the imminent release of their mobile broadcast app ‘Busk’ which will be released in February. 

Both sites are worth a look - both to discover great live performances and to consider whether you’re limiting the reach of your show by restricting your audience to those who can fit within the walls of your venue!


What technologies are you currently using in being a cabaret artist and what technology do you wish you had at your fingertips? Leave a comment below or email me at


If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here.




Cabaret Manifesto 2015


The New Year often brings with it new beginnings. Cabaret Confessional was established back in 2009 with a mission to

promote cabaret and its practitioners and serve as an archive, capturing a snap shot of cabaret history.

The site was active through until 2012 - sometimes meeting its mission and other times not. Apart from the occasional post we’ve been fairly quiet over the past two years but in planning for the upcoming year I’ve decided to come back and give the site a fresh push and a relaunch.

If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here.

The cabaret world is rich with history and is populated with some of the most fascinating and generous people I’ve ever met.

Practically by definition, cabaret artists have wonderful stories to share.

I intend to shine a spotlight on as many of you as I can - with the intention that each cabaret artist that is brought to the attention of a new audience increases interest in the genre as a whole - helping it to grow and thrive.

I find that almost everyone who enters the world of cabaret - who buys a ticket and sits in a darkened room to share in a live performance that exists only in that particular moment amongst that select group of people - loves the experience. I believe that once you’ve been to one cabaret show, you’d gladly go to another - but sometimes it’s not easy to decide what which shows will or won’t be worth your time. Here lies the need for a resource that has the trust of its readers. A place that loves cabaret and is willing to be honest about it. Honest that some shows are standouts that should be celebrated as widely as possible, and others experiment but don’t reach the mark.

Cabaret Confessional needs to be a place where cabaret fans can discover new artists, follow their careers and support their projects. Performers should be able to develop audiences outside their home cities. There are markets growing exponentially outside of the cities that were once thought of as the traditional homes of cabaret - for example Australia alone has five or six cabaret festivals spread out across the country. If you can build an audience in another country - is there any better excuse to travel than to perform in a new and exotic place? Cabaret Confessional will be the place you can discover where festivals with a cabaret focus are held and how to get booked/involved.

If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here.

Creating and promoting a cabaret show can be a sometimes solitary and often thankless enterprise, so one of my biggest hopes has always been to develop a worldwide network of cabaret practitioners - who can share their experiences, knowledge and passion.

The recent Metropolitan Room #VarietyMarathon came at just the right time to jolt me into making this happen. I had the opportunity to meet many cabaret people through facebook, email and twitter - discovering that there are so many of you out there who are just as passionate about cabaret as me. I’m currently working on a redesign of the site that I hope you’ll all love, holding on to the best parts of our initial incarnation, while putting some new ideas into place.

It won’t be just a noticeboard for re-posting press releases. Promoting your shows is important, but audiences will be much more interested in recommendations they receive from a source that they can come to trust. The ‘onstage’ section of the site will be geared towards the audience. It will follow shows as they develop, it will have features on particular artists and projects, it will have reviews of shows and recordings.

But just as importantly, Cabaret Confessional will also have a ‘backstage’ element to it, where practitioners - performers/writers/directors/producers/etc can ‘hang out’ in a sense. Here we’ll discuss what trends we notice in the cabaret world, how we can work together to promote cabaret as an art form in ways that benefits us all. For those who are new to cabaret, there will be access to resources that can help you get your act up and running.

I’d like to get to meet as many of you in person as possible this year. I’m based in Australia, and I’ve set myself the goal of visiting all of Australia’s Cabaret Festivals this year plus at least one overseas. I’ve found a renewed enthusiasm for my part in cabaret and it’s in a large part due to re-discovering how many other people share my passion. If you have any thoughts about what you would or wouldn’t like to see on this site, or in ways you think you may be able to contribute - please feel free to share in comments below or write to me directly at

Looking forward to an exciting year ahead!


Matthew Carey

Jan 9, 2015


If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here.


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New Year's Marathon Variety Spectacular

 Ringing in the New Year traditionally involves some introspection. We ask ourselves questions like “What went well last year?” and “What would I like to achieve in the next twelve months?” Many of us set lofty goals but find that within weeks (or days) they’ve been replaced with far less ambitious targets. 

Bernie FurshpanBernie Furshpan, owner of New York’s Metropolitan Room, has done the opposite. He set out to promote the club in order to “keep it in the minds and hearts of those who enjoy live entertainment and  great performances.” He came up with the idea of a continuous 24 hour event about four months ago, but his plan has grown to become an unprecedented show involving over 300 people and a live online broadcast.

Over the first three days of 2015 - Thursday Jan 1 at 7pm to Sunday Jan 4 at 7am - the intimate concert venue will stage the “Marathon Variety Show” with a continuous 60 hours of entertainment.

The production is eligible to qualify as a Guinness World Records record-holder for the longest variety show, planning to smash the record that currently stands at 12 hours and 8 minutes. In order to be accredited by Guinness, the entertainment must be ‘continuous’ and emcees must introduce each new act within 5 minutes. 

Celebrating the full range of shows at the Metropolitan Room, the event features music, burlesque, comedy, spoken word, drag, theatre, opera, magic and puppetry acts from over 235 performers - from its most prominent starts to its most promising emerging talents.

Musical performers will include Billy Stritch, Tony Danza, Emily Bergl, KT Sullivan, Steve Ross, Sue Matsuki and Aaron Weinstein.

Comedy and magic acts include Judy Gold, Eddie Brill, Harrison Greenbaum and Michael Six Muldoon.

Featured burlesque and drag performers include Hedda Letttuce, Quinn Lemley and Sasha Pierce and from the puppet world will be Jonathan Ellers, Flor Bromley and Jenny Hann.

A full list of the line-up and performance times is available on the Metropolitan Room website.

The centre-piece of the marathon - Jan 2 & 3 at 7pm - will be Marilyn Maye with her fourth annual “By Request” holiday party-show. “Having Marilyn smack in the middle of this three-day variety show signals that this marathon is much more than an endurance test,” says Bernie Furshpan. “We are going to celebrate the range of sows at the Metropolitan Room and program the best and most original…it’s this impressive mix that makes our club truly one of a kind.”

Although many of the featured entertainers have already played the Metropolitan Room since its opening in May 2006, quite a few will be making their Metropolitan Room debuts at the history making event.

Entertainment icon Joe Franklin will be Grand Marshal of the show. No stranger to variety, Joe hosted his own television talk show for forty three years and holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for Longest Continuous Talk Show Host.

Day passes for the “Marathon Variety Show” cost $25 per person, with three-day passes for $60. The Metropolitan Room offers a complimentary beverage with each ticket purchased. There will be no food or beverage minimums throughout the marathon, except for the legendary Marilyn Maye, who’s “By Request” (playing Fri & Sat at 7pm) requires a separate ticket purchase ($35 plus a two drink minimum). For reservations call 212.216.0440 or to book online visit

Managing a team of over 300 people is akin to “organizing 100 weddings” says Furshpan. “I’m always pushing the envelope and stretching myself to see how far I can go.” With numerous spreadsheets and a team of 10+ people helping the club’s regular staff to coordinate the Marathon, he seems to have covered every contingency. The acts are carefully programmed in 10 or 15 minute spots, transport to and from the club has been considered and breakfast is even provided for those who attend that early (or that late).

Furshpan is thrilled with the support the performance has received from the New York community. “I’ve learned that in events such as this, everyone feels responsible for making it successful”. They are “willing to work any shift and do whatever it takes to make it work for everyone” While he knew he could rely on team spirit even he has been surprised by the degree of enthusiasm the event has generated.

To ensure the marathon meets the strict Guiness World Record requirements, 9 cabaret experts have been engaged to adjudicate the event including Stu Hamstra of the legendary publication and website Cabaret Hotline Online. Stu will be covering the 5am-9am shift on Jan 2 and looks forward to tweeting his impressions from @stuhamstra.

For those who can’t make it to 34 West 22nd Street to witness the Marathon live, the Metropolitan Room has teamed with Andrew Kotliar of to broadcast all 60 hours live on the web. LIVAMP works to identify and broadcast unique live performances worldwide in high quality to bring them to a wider audience. If the spirit of cabaret is sharing entertainment with an audience in an intimate setting, then watching it from your living room has got to be the next best thing to actually being part of the live audience at the club. You can register to watch the marathon for free at


Sources for this piece include: and



I know it. You know it. Everyone knows it. There are ever increasing numbers of charities and pozible campaigns looking for money. None of us can afford to support all of them. We can’t even support all the ones we’d like to.

Which leaves you with two options - ignore them all and buy yourself an iPhone 5, or find the few that you really connect with and get behind those causes with whatever support you can offer.

I met Jenny Wynter through my Cabaret Summer School last January. The first thing I realised about her is that when Jenny is passionate about something, she’ll dive right into it. She flew down from her home near Brisbane to join the Cabaret Class of 2012 and was a truly vibrant and much loved member of our group. Enthusiasm like hers is contagious, so I was thrilled to invite her back to Adelaide in February to join a cabaret tour of Adelaide metro theatres and to be involved in her Fringe season of An Unexpected Variety Show.

I read on her Comic Mummy website that she’d be returning to Adelaide to participate in the Cara TV Charity Challenge and I knew I wanted to do something to help. As she describes it, it is an Amazing Race style show in which Australians also raise funds for charity. The opportunity came about through her performances in the Adelaide Fringe and is a fantastic way for her to build her profile as a performer and support a cause she believes in.

I know from my own experience that when there’s a call to action for someone that I know, or is in my community, there’s a much larger incentive for me to step up and show my support. I’ve already donated $50 but I know there is more I can do. I can make sure you know you can go to this page and donate any amount you like and I can pull together a bunch of fantastically talented to performers who are willing to share their time and talents to support a person and a cause they believe in.

CABARET FOR A CAUSE will be held Saturday September 29 at 2.30pm and is being hosted by the generous and very funky team at La Boheme in Grote Street and will feature performers including:

Anya Anastasia

Carla Conlin

Meg Doherty

Jamie Jewell

Kirsty Roberts

Michelle Nightingale

Lindsay Prodea

Lucy Russell

Annie Siegmann

and Jenny Wynter.


Tickets booked via this site are $25 and are tax deductible. (Details of how to book are below.)

My goal is for us to raise $2000 towards Jenny’s target of $10K through this event. 

Cabaret friends and family, this is where I’m calling for your support. Cabaret for a Cause will be an afternoon that promises to be great fun. These performers are all brilliantly talented and passionate about cabaret and performing.

You can show your own support by doing any of the following:


A) Book a TICKET to see Cabaret for a Cause

Go to  donate $25 per ticket and type “Cabaret for a Cause <and your email address>” in the message box. Your booking will be noted and your name will be on the door at La Boheme for the show!

B) Book a VIRTUAL TICKET to Cabaret for a Cause

Not everyone will be able to make it on the day, but that doesn’t prevent you from showing your support. Go to donate $25 and type “VIRTUAL TIX <and your email address>” in the message box. I will personally make sure you receive a souvenir from the show!


This deserves support from everyone who loves cabaret! Feel free to re-post this page or its information via facebook, twitter, email or on your own site. If you have an email list of friends and fans it would be wonderful if you could share this information with them and encourage their support.


She’s set herself the task of raising $10K in 8 weeks. Even someone as full of love and enthusiasm as Jenny needs a little encouragement now and then. Find her on facebook, on twitter or on youtube. Send her a message and remind her that she’s got an enormous number of supporters behind her.


We’ve got seven days to make this happen. Let’s do it!