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Entries in Stu Hamstra (11)


Cabaret Quote of the Day: I


“My friend Daniel just discovered it is cheaper to go to a $15 cover 2 drink minimum cabaret show than a movie with popcorn & soda in NYC” 

Stu Hamstra - Publisher/Editor, Cabaret Hotline Online


Related post: Quote of the Day


Molly Pope: Retro-Chic Cabaret Chick

“She’s sensitive, but brassy, and knows her sense of style will carry her through anything!” - Kim David Smith

Molly Pope moved to New York City from Pittsburgh at age 18 to study at NYU. 

Creating Introducing Molly Pope has given the singer the opportunity to take some artistic liberties in revising and rewriting her first ten years in New York City.

“The first cabaret show I saw was actually one of my teachers, who had been in the original cast of La Cage aux Folles on Broadway.”

That teacher was Betsy Parrish, who performed in a club that no longer exists. 

“It was definitely a revelatory moment because (Betsy), who was I think in her late 60s or early 70s at the time, got up and sang ‘I Will Survive’. My head exploded, because I didn’t know you could do things like that - and completely re-interpret songs.”

The idea of an elderly woman singing “I WIll Survive” was an awakening for Pope.

“I am very drawn to cabaret because I don’t fit into any of the neat cookie cutter casting types and cabaret became a place where I could sing whatever I want. No matter whether it was age appropriate, gender appropriate, race appropriate, didn’t matter - I could make it work.”

Before long, Molly herself became known for her creative re-interpretation of songs.

“I’ve had the good fortune to be involved with another show that is coming to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Our Hit Parade, where we take a current pop song and interpret it however we want to. That’s an amazing playground for me to try things and fail.”

“A lot of times when you do a cabaret show, the money involved puts a lot of pressure on one performance and with something like Our Hit Parade, every month I get to try something different and see what works. Sometimes (the results are) amazing and sometimes they’re really not.”

“I like to re-invent songs and also take my given physical appearance and my ‘signature look’ of the big pouffy hair and look very wholesome and then destroy that image.”

Pope’s first cabaret show was inspired by a ‘really horrible break up’.

“A friend of mine who I was working with at the time, who had directed me in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe in our senior year of college and knew me very well saw my tragic emotional state and said ‘We should do a cabaret show.’ That’s how it started.”

That show was aptly titled The Diva-loution of Molly Pope. About a year later, the singer created The Molly Pope Show with the concept of presenting a television special like they produced in the 1960s.

“She’s a very funny musical comedy performer who quickly became a favorite of the young gay crowd in NYC - she’s quirky, quick on the uptake, a sharp improviser and fun friend. You guys down under will love her!” - Stu Hamstra, Cabaret Hotline Online.

With the show I’m bringing to Adelaide, Introducing Molly Pope, I think I’m getting back to what I do best, which is interpreting songs. I’m very excited by the fact that it will be just me and piano.

“I’ve previously done things with multimedia, back up singers and more, but this time there will be no bells and whistles, just a live human being in front of you who is entertaining and interesting to watch.”

Pope met her pianist and musical director, Kenny Mellman through Our Hit Parade in December 2008. 

“When we were offered the chance to come to Adelaide we wound up working backwards. I had presented Introducing Molly Pope before but I really wanted to rework the show and between now and coming to Adelaide I have an artistic residency at a space called Ars Nova here in New York that is all about developing work. I have a writer and director and will actually get to do three performances of the show right before I come to Adelaide. So it the show should be just mind-blowing by the time it reaches Australia!”

Having played in a variety of cabaret rooms in New York, Molly explains the difference between them.

“I think that different venues lend themselves to different types of shows. Don’t Tell Mama is very intimate and you’re basically playing a proscenium stage. At Joe’s Pub it’s much larger and you’re on a stage playing to three corners. It was a huge learning curve for me between doing a show in more of a traditional proscenium versus having to constantly turn and play to different areas.”

“There are also different vibes depending on what part of town you’re in. Don’t Tell Mama is in the theatre district. You get a lot of tourists there and it feels a little more family friendly, whereas Joe’s Pub has a very hip downtown kind of scene.”

“Molly Pope is the next biggest thing of 1963.” - Adam Feldman, Time Out New York.

How did she come to be this retro-chic chick?

“I was extremely close with my Grandma the whole time I was growing up. Once I got into the painful junior high years and through high school we actually got closer. She and I were very kindred spirits and we would have been best friends even if I hadn’t been her grand daughter.”

“When i was in Junior High and broken hearted I would listen to Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole because that was just what I gravitated towards. So any old timeliness I think is because that’s what I responded to.”

“The challenge for me has been how to deal with the fact that I’m about one hundred percent sure that I was born at the wrong time. I can’t really do anything about that so I think ultimately what I do with my performances in cabaret is give myself an opportunity to create my ideal world. The perfect world in which I exist with this retro vibe that is the 1960s, but is still contemporary and today. “

“My show can have references to cell phones and references to the Jack Paar show at the same time.”

Pope didn’t know much about the Adelaide Cabaret Festival when she was initially approached to perform.

“I’m good friends with Kim Smith, one of your home grown talents. I’m performing at his monthly show here in New York in early June. I was completely blown away when I got the email from them and I started to do my online research. Unfortunately the concept of being not only appreciated but also compensated for doing this kind of thing (cabaret) blew my mind.”

“I’m nothing but thrilled to be performing somewhere that has a Cabaret Festival. Outside of the very small New York cabaret world, I’ve never heard of anything like it, purely devoted to this nebulous art form that encompasses so much.”

Cabaret doesn’t always pay the bills.

“I’m still a struggling performer with, or at the moment without a day job. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be asked. It is an acknowledgement that I’m doing something that is interesting even if I’m not being cast on Broadway or television. It’s a feather in my cap that I desperately needed.”

Given that many of the performers who originally inspired Pope are no longer with us, who does she admire in contemporary cabaret?

“Right now in New York there are five or six really talented, really funny female singers out there. In the past month I’ve seen two or three different shows that were incredibly inspiring. Leslie Kritzer just did her solo show, and Natalie Joy Johnson and Bridget Everett (of Our Hit Parade). Watching Bridget perform is like a masterclass.”

“I did have the unbelievable good fortune of seeing Bobby Short at the Cafe Carlyle before he passed away and Elaine Stritch at the same venue. Elaine is one of my top three idols, even though she’s had something of a rocky life.”

There isn’t necessarily a formula to how Pope creates her own shows. 

“I tend to approach each show with a concept behind it. I have started repeating songs that I know work really well. So I don’t necessarily start with a clean slate and only songs I’ve never sung before. I do tend to find ways to use the numbers that I know everybody really loves, but they might function in very different ways in different shows.”

Molly Pope makes her Australian solo debut at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival June 15-17.

“It’s going to be a ridiculous evening, and it will be really old-timey, but I’ll be putting Marilyn Manson back to back with the Great American Songbook. You will not be bored!”


Introducing Molly Pope

Date: Wed 15 - Fri 17 June 

Time: 6.30pm (15&16) & 9pm (17)

Venue: Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre

Tickets: $29/25

Bookings: Click here or call 131 246


Other posts you might enjoy:

2011 Adelaide Cabaret Festival begins - Top 10 Picks


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A Night at the Metropolitan Room: New Alternatives Benefit

I’m still baffled as to how on earth this show featuring four amazing cabaret artists Natalie Douglas, Terese Genecco, Kim Smith and Rick Skye supporting a very worthy cause could’ve gone under my radar, and if it weren’t for the tweet by Cabaret Hotline Online’s cabaret guru Stu Hamstra, who is thankfully on the ball, I’d have missed it completely.  Even though it’s already Tuesday in Australia, there’s still time to spread the word in the States, so that’s exactly what I’ll do. 



Via Cabaret Hotline Online 

Four of New York’s top cabaret artists-with a trunkful of awards among them-will help raise funds for New Alternatives in a benefit concert at The Metropolitan Room (34 West 22nd Street, NYC - 212-206-0440) on Monday, March 28th at 7:00 pm.

Natalie Douglas, Terese Genecco, Kim Smith and Rick Skye’s Slice o’ Minnelli will perform at the popular club. Journalist and performer Kevin Scott Hall, whose monthly “Kevin on Kabaret” column is featured in Edge, will host the event. Musical director is Deana Witkowski.

Hall and Jeff Mummert, a board member of New Alternatives, are producing the event. Established in 2008, New Alternatives serves New York’s homeless LGBT youth. The organization seeks to increase self-sufficiency among this population through case management, education services, life skills training, counseling and meals. Executive Director is Kate Barnhart, formerly of Sylvia’s Place, who has dedicated her working life to this cause.

According to PFlag, up to 50% of New York’s homeless youth population is comprised of LGBT persons, who are on the streets because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. While there are as many as 20,000 homeless LGBT youth in New York, there are only a few hundred beds available for that vulnerable group.

Each of the four performers has wowed audiences with his or her unique style. Douglas brings a jazzy flair to standards, pop and Broadway songs; Genecco commands attention with her big band chops; Aussie native Smith captivates with a sexy, modern twist on Berlin-style theatrics; and Skye brings high camp and flawless impersonation to his Minnelli.

There is a $25 cover plus a 2-drink minimum.


A Night at the Metropolitan Room: New Alternatives Benefit

Date: March 28

Venue: The Metropolitan Room 34 West 22nd Street, NYC 

Time: 7.00pm

Tickets: $25 (2 drinks minimum)

Bookings: click here or call 212-206-0440.


Lena Nobuhara

Cabaret Confessional Associate Editor

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Cabaret Hotline Online March is Cabaret Month Gala @ the Laurie Beechman Theatre 4th March (New York)



Cabaret Hotline Online is once again bringing the annual March is a Cabaret Month Gala with star-studded line-up. Cabaret Hotline Online is owned and operated by Stu Hamstra, a cabaret guru in New York City who literally spends every waking hour promoting the genre and performers. It’s a brilliant source of information on all things cabaret, covering NYC and beyond.  The website features reviews, news, listings and a whole lot of other useful information for cabaret fans and performers. Please consider supporting the website by becoming a member.  For information on membership, click here.

Tickets are on sale for the fourth annual CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE MARCH IS CABARET MONTH GALA on Friday, March 4th at 7:00 pm at THE WEST BANK CAFE/LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATRE (407 West 42nd Street, NYC), produced by Tom Stajmiger. You are urged to act quickly to assure seating.

Cabaret Hotline Online is happy to announce that Karen Akers (Nightlife, MAC and Bistro Award Winner) has just been added to the cast for the show. Tracy Stark will serve as musical director for this year’s show. 

Also in the cast are Johnny Rodgers (Nightlife, MAC and Bistro Award Winner); Julie Reyburn (Multi MAC, BISTRO, NIGHTLIFE Award winner); Sally Mayes (Broadway/cabaret star and Tony nominee); Laurel Masse (founding member of Manhattan Transfer, Bistro Award winner for Best Jazz Vocalist); Gabrielle Stravelli (Bistro Award Winner - Performer on the Rise); Lucia Spina (Broadway: Legally Blonde, South Pacific, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Les Miserables) and Jim VanSlyke (Singer/Songwriter/ Voice Teacher). (As with all live entertainment events, performers are subject to change without notice.)

There is a $25 cover for members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE ($30 cover for non-members). A $15 food/drink minimum will be collected the night of the show - credit cards accepted. All tickets must be purchased online - no reservations will be taken by the club - no tickets will be available the day of the show or at the door.



Reservation will be considered valid when payment is received.


Cabaret Hotline Online March is Cabaret Month Gala 

Venue: West Bank Cafe/Laurie Beechman Theater 407 West 42nd Street, NY

Dates: March 4

Time: 7.00pm

Tickets: $25 cover for members of CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE ($30 cover for non-members) + $15 Food/Bevarage Minimum

Reservations: CLICK HERE - all tickets MUST be purchased online. No reservations will be taken by the club.



For those who can’t make it to the FOURTH ANNUAL MARCH IS CABARET MONTH GALA at the LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATRE on Friday, March 4th, you can still support the promotion by purchasing an ad in the program booklet - the price of a ticket ($25) gets you a quarter page, with a half page going for $40 and a
full page for $75 (inside front cover and inside & outside back cover cost $100 each).

To order an ad, and to see the sizes and specs, deadline for artwork, etc. just click here.


Banner payments and membership donations help to support:

Twice-weekly newsletter (sent to 2700 subscribers)


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Lena Nobuhara

Cabaret Confessional Associate Editor 


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Two evenings with a cabaret guru in New York 



I’m currently on holiday in NYC – sadly a fleeting visit but with highlights too many to name. New York City is where all the action is for cabaret and musical theatre fans, and I’ve been spinning around, excitedly running from one show to the next in mad excitement like a guinea pig on speed.

Stu Hamstra, a ‘cabaret’s best friend’ as quoted by this blog’s editor Matthew Carey, is a guru of the art form, and was one person I was hoping to meet.  He promotes cabaret with unparalleled passion and he dedicates his time on his Cabaret Hotline Online website, the sister site blog, Twitter and now Facebook pages to spread the word about cabaret shows and artists around the world.

I’m a member of Cabaret Hotline Online (and you, too, can join here) and enjoy reading his newsletters and updates.  Stu is a treasure trove of information on all things cabaret.  I couldn’t wait to see what he had picked out.

So on Saturday and Sunday, he took me to Don’t Tell Mama, a cabaret venue that he likened to The Butterfly Club, in the sense that they both nurture up and coming talent and aren’t afraid to experiment with edgy shows.  They are also both independently owned and operated with no government funding.  Don’t Tell Mama is an institution in New York City that stood the test of times - it features a restaurant, a piano bar and two rooms for cabaret.

The street Don’t Tell Mama is located is called ‘Restaurant Row’ and is teeming with eateries.  Stu used to live above Don’t Tell Mama and gave me a rundown on the history of the venues that have come and gone or stayed.

Stu introduced me to some regulars, staff and I instantly felt at home.  There was this undeniable cabaret vibe, and I had a chat to some performers there who came to see the show.

Many Australian names were mentioned – Kim Smith, Trevor Ashley, David Campbell, Caroline O’Connor (even though she’s British-born, we’ll call her our own), Tom Dickins and Jennifer Kingwell. It was good to feel the strong presence of Australian performers in the cabaret capital, which also gave me the indication that Australian cabaret artists have world-class reputation.

I enjoyed Marquee Five, a group of five singers (Mick Bleyer, Adam West Hemming, Vanessa Parvin, Sierra Rein and Julie Reyburn) that gave us beautiful, dreamy harmonies and equally good solo singing.  Next up was Judy and Liza Together Again, featuring the cabaret favourites Tommy Femia (Judy Garland) and Rick Skye (Liza Minnelli). This ‘mother and daughter’ duo shined and shimmered on stage, giving a knock-out performance. The crowd adored them and the love was mutual.  Pianists at both shows (Mark Janas for Marquee Five and David Maiocco for “Judy and Liza Together Again”) were remarkably good, too.  Having seen Trevor Ashley’s Liza on an E! at Adelaide Cabaret Festival, I think a ‘Liza-off’ between him and Rick Skye would be an absolute riot.

Mark McCombs’s show blew me away.  It’s not a traditional cabaret, and is quite experimental in terms of the performance style, but for those that are willing to try new things will be richly rewarded.  He portrays those that are often marginalised (elderly, children, disabled) as well those that are in every neighbourhood, like a busy-bee gossping woman in a small Southern town, complete with a thick accent.  And he gets it right with each punch line.  The whole room was in stitches most of the time, but there were also sobering, intense moments where he embraced reality head-on.

In addition to the shows, Stu’s invaluable and insightful observations on cabaret industry was enlightening and I could’ve talked to him all night.

I was also lucky to meet Daniel, Stu’s friend who regularly features on Cabaret Hotline Online newsletters and a fellow cabaret lover.  Three of us had a good discussion about how cabaret is from the heart - that the performers have the stories they MUST share, and how it feels like they are singing to YOU personally. Each lyric means something that you relate to, and how all of that make the performance so personal and intimate. 

A big thank you is in order for Stu, Daniel and the people at Don’t Tell Mama for making my time in New York so memorable. I’d love to see them in Australia and show them the local cabaret scene.

I’m off now to catch the subway to explore the city, BUT my cabaret experience in New York is not over yet.  

Stay tuned for my report on Miranda Sings and The Cast Party as well as Kim Smith’s show (which I will attend tonight) in a few days time!


Lena Nobuhara

Cabaret Confessional Associate Editor 


Related Post:

A Night to Remember in New York City


Autumn is Cabaret Season!

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