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Entries in Sam Irwin (1)

Monday
Dec122011

All I Want for Christmas...a Cabaret Gift Guide

I don’t know about you, but I’m always stuck for ideas when it comes to choosing Christmas presents. What I dream of is that someone will post a list of gift ideas specifically tailored for the people I’m shopping for. If I can’t have that for myself, I can at least offer it to you. Here are some gift suggestions that would be a great filler for a cabaret fan’s Christmas Stocking this year. If you ARE the cabaret fan - share this article with a gift buying person close to you. They’re bound to get the hint.


[Email subscribers may find that images or links don’t appear in this post. Click here to view the Cabaret Gift Guide in your web browser.] 

 

I read Sam Irvin’s thorough(ly entertaining) biography on Kay Thompson earlier in the year. For those of you not yet familiar with this multi-threat entertainer and a world-class eccentric, Kay Thompson was the mentor/best friend of Judy Garland, the vocal guru for Frank Sinatra and Lena Horne, and the godmother/Svengali of Liza Minnelli. A great read. If you want to save on Amazon’s shipping charges, grab the kindle version of this book and read it digitally.

 

Hugh Martin: The Boy Next Door is on my Christmas list. I love books by songwriters, as the stories behind the songs often add so much resonance to the words and music I’m already familiar with. Especially appropriate for the Holiday Season because Martin co-wrote one of my favourite holiday standards “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.

Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954–1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes and the second (companion) volume Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Wafflings, Diversions and Anecdotes are perfect presents for anyone interested in music theatre. Written by the composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, these books dissect lyrics from his own shows and offer comments and critiques regarding the work of his collaborators and colleagues. [You can purchase the two volumes together in The Hat Box.]

 

This cd has been playing in my car all year. Jim Caruso (host of the Monday night Cast Party open mic night at Birdland in NYC) has the panache and style of an old school entertainer but The Swing Set offers fresh interpretations of standards that Michael Buble hasn’t already sung to death. Coincidentally, Jim sings the Kay Thompson arrangement of I Love a Violin. You will love this!
I had heard of this recording a number of times, but only listened to it for the first time a few months ago. Elaine Stritch - At Liberty was recorded in 2002 and I now reccommend it as a ‘must hear’ for anyone contemplating a personal or confessional style cabaret show. Combining classic songs (many which she originally introduced - ie. sang first) with stories that left me laughing out loud before tugging at my heartstrings, this is the best recorded cabaret-syle show I’ve discovered.
My interest in cabaret was first awakened when I read about Barbra Streisand performing at Greenwich Village clubs in NYC such as the Bon Soir and the Blue Angel. Although her voice is a heavenly instrument, I’ve always been a fan of the way Streisand never lets her beautiful voice get in the way of communicating a lyric - and there aren’t many lyrics better than those written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. That’s why this album focused on the Bergmans’ songs, Barbra Streisand - What Matters Most, is also on my Christmas Wish List.

I’ve always loved Christmas and Holiday songs. As a kid I would sit at the piano, playing and singing them for hours. Must have driven my parents crazy. As an older kid I now love to discover new Holiday songs and thisChristine Lavin Presents: Just One Angel is full of them. Featuring many talented artists such as the actor/singer Jeff Daniels, Julie Gold (who wrote “From a Distance”), and Christine Lavin herself, who has recorded”When You’re Single at Christmastime”

While not strictly a cabaret-themed present, many of our readers may know someone who wishes they could Be a Broadway Star. This monopoly-style board game is ideal for your favourite MT Kid or Gleek. As you work your way around the board you attend auditions, try to get an agent and collect fans! This game was created by Ken Davenport, Broadway Producer and author of one of my favourite blogs The Producer’s Perspective.
What is on your Cabaret Christmas Wish List? Leave a comment below…

 

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