Every October Manhattan is usually bursting with song as the Mabel Mercer Foundation presents the annual Cabaret Convention. The artform specializing in live and intimate song interpretation certainly wasn't created with "social distancing" in mind, but nobody's gonna rain on this parade. For the first time ever, audiences around the world can enjoy a virtual version of the event jam packed with star power. You can register to attend one of many sessions at the link below. In the meantime, here are TMTP's selections for must-listen cabaret albums.
We’re thrilled when our participants tell us they have learned, laughed, cried and loved (our
slogan) at one of our events—but I must confess I’m just as happy when I learn something,
which happens all the time.
Example: Now available on our Let’s Go to the Movies series is my preview of the Fred Astaire film A Damsel in Distress (1937). We’ve provided the link to the film, and you can be part of our live-streamed Q&A on October 15.
I programmed it because it’s such a curiosity: Set in Britain, it’s the only musical film starring
Fred in which his leading lady, the 20-year-old Joan Fontaine (remember her from Hitchcock’s
Rebecca?), could neither sing nor dance! I’ll tell you what’s positively disarming, though: In
their dance routine for George and Ira Gershwin’s “Things Are Looking Up,” Fred generously
does everything in his power to make her look good.
And here’s what astonished me: the film, which I hadn’t seen in about 25 years, turns out to be a
delightful confection featuring the great comedy team of George Burns and Gracie Allen; the last
complete score by the Gershwin brothers before George’s untimely death of a brain tumor (their
score includes “A Foggy Day” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It”); and a screenplay co-written
by P.G. Woodhouse, the droll British humorist who created the “Jeeves” stories.
So give it a whirl…Will you cry? Probably not. But there’s a fair chance you’ll learn, laugh and
love. Not bad for a film that’s virtually forgotten today.
The Musical Theater Project's authors include Bill Rudman, Heather Meeker and Joanna May Cullinan - and guest writers from time to time!