Premiere Cabaret at MusicalFare
Photos courtesy of the artists and venue
One of the things that distinguishes Buffalo’s cultural community from those in many similar-sized cities (to say nothing of larger ones) is its longstanding tradition of crisscrossing the usual boundaries separating practitioners of one art form from all the others. It’s quite common to find, for instance, painters collaborating with poets, or media artists with sculptors. WNY’s theater world is no exception; not only do many actors and behind-the-scenes folks routinely work for multiple companies, but there’s a lot of healthy intermingling across disciplines—especially with the equally vibrant music scene.
Take the wildly popular honky-tonkers in the Skiffle Minstrels: Many of the founding members were already well known as local actors before they formed the band. Mary Ramsey, current lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs and an even longer-time member of the folk duo John and Mary, is a frequent composer and performer of original music for productions at Irish Classical and elsewhere; ditto Paul Kozlowski and Zak Ward for other companies. Entire musicals have been anchored around the members of the band the Albrights.
Then there’s the ongoing popularity of cabaret in our town and elsewhere. Popular performers like Loraine O’Donnell, Kristen Tripp Kelley, and Norm Sham—to name just the first handful that come to mind—have established thriving side careers creating and performing in original shows, often combining existing songs with personal anecdotes and/or improvised banter.
So it’s no surprise that one theater in particular—MusicalFare—should devote a significant portion of its programming every year to the form. What began as a creative repurposing of once-humble lobby space has evolved over several seasons into one of the hottest venues in town, turning its attention every few weeks to everything from show tunes to big bands to acoustic folk favorites, all performed by a revolving cast of local pros from the usually disparate realms of theater, rock, and jazz. While the theater has recently announced it will be leaving its longtime home on the Daemen campus soon, we can be certain their new space will prominently feature this crucial aspect of the company’s programming—and as other local theaters revamp their facilities, more and more are dedicating room to similar one-night-only fare.
I try to include one or two of the Premier Cabaret’s offerings in every issue, but this month there were so many worthy options to pick from—a jaw-dropping half dozen, every one of which sounds like a winner, and each featuring top-tier talent—that I decided to include them all. Behold the diversity of the roster—then make your selections, mark your calendar, and buy your tickets immediately, because these things sell out fast:
Saturday, January 12
Five Women, Five Each: Raitt, Crow, Ronstadt, lang, and Williams (SOLD OUT)
performed by Maria Sebastian and her band
Friday, January 18
For Babs’ Sake: Songs of Barbra Streisand
performed by Katy Miner and Chuck Basil
Saturday, January 19
Drea Sings Nina
songs associated with Nina Simone performed by Drea d’Nur and band
Friday, January 25
Ladies First Big Band with the Buffalo Dolls
songs of the 1940s through the early 1960s, presented by JazzBuffalo
Saturday, January 26
A Gershwin Celebration
featuring Randall Kramer, Marc Sacco, Theresa Quinn, Katy Miner, and Peggy Scalzo on vocals, two pianos, and percussion
Wednesday, January 30
World Class Jazz
Brazilian guitarist Diego Figueriedo and French vocalist Camille Bertault, presented by JazzBuffalo