“What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play. Life is a cabaret, old chum: Come to the cabaret…”
Kander and Ebb’s lyrics from the 1966 Broadway hit musical ”Cabaret” reflect a unique truth at Dallas’ Sammons Center for the Arts. Kicking off the second year of their monthly New York style Cabaret Series in their intimate Kurth Recital Hall, the Sammons presenter team has high expectations for the coming year. On 2/21/13 celebrated regional cabaret artist Hunter Sullivan opens the Spring Series, accompanied by Richard Martin on piano and James Driscoll on acoustic bass. Owning the stage with easy masculine grace, native Dallasite Sullivan, a thoroughly modern yet old-fashioned gentleman, exudes clean-cut charisma with smooth vocal tones and tight current tempos. He evokes the romantic styles of the Swing era, crooning classic ballads and pop tunes in a beguiling manner that charms audiences ranging in age from 20-somethings to those who fell in love listening to Big Band sound. A popular headliner at Turtle Creek’s Mansion, Sullivan ushers in spring with true panache. Tickets to his show at the Sammons Center are bound to sell fast…. SOLD OUT!!!! Purchase now for the rest of the series!
Sammons Cabaret Series Master of Ceremonies and Center board member Tracy Fulton presented the idea to start the series back in 2011, as an adjunct to the Sammons Center’s successful jazz series. The Cabaret art form has flourished in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles for years: one singer in elegant attire, accompanied on piano, and occasionally other instruments, performing a set of songs, often themed, ranging from show tunes to pop and classic American repertoire to European art song. Fulton believed Dallas audiences would resonate with the close up and personal format and enjoy a first class evening of fine vocal musicianship in high style. He approached the Sammons Center’s Executive Director and Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition President Joanna St. Angelo with his idea. They hashed out the logistics, adding an intermission with refreshments and a second set. The Cabaret Series emerged in February 2012 with a sold out performance by established Dallas artist Aubrianna and seed money from the Fannie and Steven Khan Foundation. Series accompanists currently play on a Chinese-made Pearl River piano. Later this year the Sammons Center will hold a fundraiser to help acquire a Steinway for the room, in conjunction with the Turtle Creek Chorale and Women’s Chorus, honoring longtime accompanist and supporter Annie Albritton.
“Put down the knitting, the book and the broom. It’s time for a holiday. Life is a cabaret, old chum. So come to the cabaret…” “Starting a new performance series takes patience and hard work, and we have no advertising budget,” comments St. Angelo. “Word of mouth and the connections from people who come will build a consistent audience, as well as having an all-star line-up.” She explains that the successful Sammons Jazz series began in 1989 and took about five years to take firm hold. To St. Angelo’s knowledge, this is the first true Cabaret Series in Dallas, one not based in a bar. For the first year, they drew singers from jazz circles and benefit performances board members had attended. The first series included established, accomplished performers like Carolyn Lee Jones and Heather Patterson. In last fall’s series, attendance and enthusiasm increased, along with performer diversity. Talent included Gary Lynn Floyd, Diana Sheehan, Anna Lively and Denise Lee, all bringing unique style, superior vocal skills and a wide diversity of superb material.
“Come taste the wine, come hear the band. Come blow that horn, start celebrating– right this way, your table’s waiting…!” Handsome Hunter Sullivan kicks off this year’s spring series, followed by classy, feminine dynamo Lynne Cadena in March, Nina Katrina in April “from Rio to Paris and points beyond in her international tour”, and nationally respected singer and touring theatre artist Liz Mikel in May. It should be a fascinating series, expressive and fun as well as overflowing with first class musicianship. St. Angelo takes delight in what the series can offer its audience: “This is a special, unique art form; Dallas audiences deserve this opportunity. To explore a sense of genuine personal connection with the heart and soul of a fine performer in an intimate hall like ours will give them a prime entertainment experience not available anywhere else in Dallas.”
“No use permitting some prophet of doom to wipe every smile away. Life is a cabaret, old chum. So come to the cabaret…!” The ticket price for each evening’s concert includes free parking, coffee, and beer, soft drinks, wine and light snacks. Seating is general admission. Regular ticket price is $40.00; Member price is $35.00. All performances are in Kurth Hall at the Sammons Center for the Arts, 3630 Harry Hines just off Oak Lawn. All performances are on Thursdays from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; doors and the bar open at 7:30 p.m. For tickets call 214/520-7789. All major credit cards are accepted. The City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and TACA, INC, provides support for this series.
Liz Mikel photo by Zach Stefaniak