What cabaret means to me

This weekend, I was part of a cabaret performance entitled LoveSICK at An Die Musik on Charles Street in Baltimore. The theme of the show was dysfunctional love songs – whether the songs were inherently dysfunctional or we just performed them with a twist (and believe me, some of them were quite twisted) – and I sang them with Dyana Neal, Steven Lampredi, Jim Knost, and Sean Powell, who also served (brilliantly) as our pianist. We had a full house of wonderful, appreciative folks and it was a great place to sing!

What I like about cabaret is the avenue for self-expression it provides. It’s not about being background music, singing songs for people drinking and talking at private tables who really don’t care what you’re doing. In fact, I will split with the traditional definition that the audience has to be seated at individual tables for it to be considered a cabaret and not a concert. Maybe the former setting is a cabaret setting, but I think cabaret can exist as a genre that is not defined by its setting.

I just read an article that said cabaret “is an overlapping group of constantly mutating forms of performance that can’t be pinned down.” It is also referred to “transgressive, upending everyday ideas about art and bodies, politics and sex, provoking as well as pleasing. It loves you but sometimes it likes to see you squirm.” This goes along with my friend Michael Tan’s post after our show as, “I laughed, I cried, I was scared, it became a part of me.” THAT’s what cabaret should do. Be funny, be vulnerable, be sexy, be challenging. And I want to do more of it. Here and elsewhere. NYC, Chicago, wherever. 

And maybe next year we’ll do another version of LoveSICK. LoveSICKER? LoveSICK, the Relapse? (That last one was Dyana’s suggestion – I kind of like LoveSICKER.)

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