If you think those tales from the brothers Grimm get pretty grim, think again. You ain't seen grim till you've seen the blacker-than-black little fables that spring from the mind of Martin McDonagh in his play, "The Pillowman." The Theatre Lab has opened a very fine production of "Pillowman" at the Gaslight.
T. Oliver Reid takes us from Boyle Avenue to 110th Street. The sophistication of Bobby Short, the soulfulness of Jeffrey Osborne, the dash of Cary Grant and the liquid grace of Ben Vereen were embodied by T. Oliver Reid in his gorgeous show, “Drop Me Off in Harlem,” on March 28 at the Gaslight Theater.
St. Louis' own Meghan Kirk has been appearing at the Cabaret Project's monthly open mic night (which I host) for around a year now. I've been impressed as hell with her work there, but haven't been able to get to one of her shows until this past Friday, when she presented "The Story Goes On," a revised version of the show she premiered at the Gaslight Cabaret Festival last fall.
I've always maintained that some of the best cabaret comes from singers who also have a solid theatrical background. A well-constructed cabaret act is ultimately a kind of one-act play, and actors have the advantage of understanding the form.
Brian Owens' "Sam Cooke at the Copa," which opened the spring edition of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival on Thursday, was really two great shows in one.
I first saw "Riffs in a Set of 10"—veteran St. Louis actor/director Chris Limber's loving and literate tribute to the hipster attitude of the "Beat Generation"—last summer at the St. Lou Fringe Festival. At the time I was pretty much blown away by the way this ingenious hybrid jazz/cabaret act knitted together big band and Great American Songbook classics from the 20s through the 40s with Mr. Limber's original image-rich poetic soliloquies that sounded like they would have been right at home coming from a skinny guy with a goatee, black turtleneck, and shades in an underground coffeehouse circa 1958.
A wise friend once said, "The older I get, the better my childhood becomes." In other words, if we're lucky, perspective comes with age. That thought came to mind throughout Ken Haller's cabaret show "Mama's Boy," which premiered on October 30 as part of the Gaslight Cabaret Festival at the Gaslight Theater in St. Louis.
Mabel Mercer Award–winning cabaret artist Steve Ross has a long and happy relationship with St. Louis, going back to the early days of the Grandel Cabaret Series. He was one of the first performers to be featured by Jim Dolan's Presenters Dolan organization when it got off the ground many years ago, so his appearance last weekend at Jim's Gaslight Cabaret Festival had something of the feel of a homecoming.
What's the essence of cabaret? Partly it's what my friend Ken Haller (no mean cabaret artist himself) calls the art of telling stories through song. But equally essential, as Karen Mason's show demonstrates, are the arrangements used to tell those stories.
Storm Large (yes, that's her real name) seems to be a one-woman entertainment conglomerate: rock star, author, actor, songwriter, and creator of the much-praised one-woman show "Crazy Enough" (based on her memoir of the same name).