The kids are all right

The Webster Conservatory Cabaret Program students

Given that the average age of the audiences at many cabaret shows is (to quote a line from Mame) somewhere between forty and death, you might be tempted to assume that cabaret is a dying art form.

Nothing could be more distant from the truth, however, as tonight’s Webster Conservatory Student Cabaret Showcase clearly demonstrated.  Produced by The Presenters Dolan at the Kranzberg Center, the Monday night showcase (there is a second with a different line-up of singers on Tuesday) was a knockout evening of bravura performances by seven very talented and unique young artists.  Under the experienced tutelage of Neal Richardson (who heads the cabaret program at Webster, in partnership with Lara Teeter), these kids demonstrated great musical chops, a keen understanding of the lyrics of their songs, and a degree of self-awareness that would have done credit to actor/singers many years older.

Director Lara Teeter (assisted by Tim Schall, one of the primary keepers of the cabaret flame locally) gave the evening a nice shape and flow, but it was the stunning talent of the performers themselves that made the show work.

Normally Neal is at the baby grand for these showcases, but a knee injury sidelined him this time around.  Ron McGowan and Dr. Jeffrey Carter provided expert accompaniment on Monday; Larry Pry will be at the 88s on Tuesday.  Neal’s absence from the stage turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise for him, though, since it gave him the opportunity to see just how effective his teaching had been.

We were seated together at tonight’s show, and his pride at the accomplishments of his young charges was palpable—as well it should have been.  Whether or not any of these fine performers goes on to include cabaret their careers, their work on the deep meaning of the lyrics of their songs will stand them in good stead in the years to come.

The second Webster Conservatory Student Cabaret Showcase is Tuesday, December 11, at 8 PM.  A limited number of tickets are available at  I strongly urge you to attend.  The future of cabaret is on stage now at the Kranzberg Center; go and have your faith in that future confirmed.