During more than 30 years as a magazine and website publisher/editor/writer, Stephen Hanks has written about sports, health and nutrition, parenting, politics, the media, musical theater, and cabaret. In addition to writing about New York City cabaret for BroadwayWorld.com, Stephen also reviews cabaret shows for Cabaret Scenes Magazine and CabaretScenes.org. He is the Board President of Musical Mondays Theatre Lab, which workshops new musicals in New York City, and a former Board Member of the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs. In 2011, Stephen was an Associate Producer for the Off-Broadway show THE FARTISTE. Please contact Stephen with your comments and questions at: email@example.com
BWW Reviews: Lovely Laura Benanti Is A Dazzling 'Idiot's' Delight in Her New Show at 54 Below
May 22, 2013
Halfway through her opening night at 54 Below on Monday, Laura Benanti unveiled the evening's showstopper, a multi pop-song mix titled 'Inappropriate Medley.' No, Benanti didn't faux strip her way through the songs as if she was replaying her past role as Gypsy Rose Lee, but she frantically ripped through eight songs, including Beyonce's 'All the Single Ladies,' 'Old Man River,' Sonny & Cher's 'I Got You Babe,' Aretha Franklin's 'Respect,' and culminated the riff by boogying like Tina Turner on 'Proud Mary,' and playing a tambourine tossed over by her Musical Director/pianist Todd Almond. As the audience commenced with raucous cheering, an almost out-of-breath Benanti quipped, 'I can't wait to read the review tomorrow that says Laura Benanti is an idiot.' Well, Laura Benanti may be a lot of things, but idiot is not one of them.
CABARET LIFE NYC: Running Out of Superlatives to Review Ann Hampton Callaway's Recent Sarah Vaughn Tribute Run
May 19, 2013
It's taken me two weeks to write this review of Ann Hampton Callaway's recent 8-shows-in-four-days run at Dizzy's Jazz Club at Lincoln Center, where she paid musical tribute to the late, great Sarah Vaughan, and I hope you buy the reason for such procrastination. Since late September last year, I've now seen four different Callaway cabaret shows at three different venues and reviewed two of them and, well, writing about how terrific Ann is on a cabaret/nightclub stage is getting a bit difficult as well as boring. I mean, I'm running out of words in my personal thesaurus to describe Callaway's consistent excellence, not to mention how she seems to provide a periodic master class in cabaret performance. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt I needed to prove I was up to this reviewing challenge, and a show as wonderful as From Sassy to Divine: A Celebration of Sarah Vaughan deserved more kudos on what Rachel Maddow calls, 'The Internet Machine.'
BWW Reviews: 2012 MetroStar Talent Champ BILLIE ROE Delivers a Gritty, Winning Tribute to Tom Waits
May 18, 2013
You probably don't have to feel sorry for a mature, experienced female singer who decides to tackle the gritty music of Tom Waits and calls her show 1978 NYC Underground, but it was still tough not to feel for Billie Roe as she performed this week at the Metropolitan Room. Roe, who in 2011 offered the highly-praised Dangerous Women: Life In Film Noir, admittedly has yearned to present a Waits songbook for 35 years, but just a couple of months before her four-show run which ends tonight at 9:30 pm (her prize for winning the 2012 MetroStar Challenge Competition at the Met Room), rising cabaret star Marissa Mulder staged a Tom Waits-themed show that was close to perfect in every way and earned rave reviews from the New York Times and BroadwayWorld.com.
BroadwayWorld.com Cabaret Writer Stephen Hanks Presents 'Stephen's Angels' at Iridium Jazz Club Tonight
May 14, 2013
Stephen Hanks, BroadwayWorld.com Cabaret columnist and reviewer, has produced and will host Stephen's Angels, a cabaret variety show presented by ScoBar Entertainment and slated for the Iridium Jazz Club tonight, May 14 at 10pm. Stephen's Angels will introduce audiences to six 'smart, sassy, sexy young women, whose singing is sublime.' Five of the six ladies are currently preparing summer or fall cabaret shows for the Metropolitan Room, and one will be launching a CD release show at the Laurie Beechman Theater in June.
BWW Reviews: In DADDY'S LITTLE GIRL, Champagne Pam is Bubbly, Brassy, Bold and Beautiful at the Beechman
May 13, 2013
Two years ago, in my generally favorable review of Pamela Lewis' quirky, if flawed, cabaret show Dog Walking Diva, I went a little bit out on the limb with . . . She has the potential to be a major cabaret star. Well, as Lewis (who given her bubbly and bold personality performs under the totally appropriate moniker of Champagne Pam) remarked often in her newest show, during which she assessed whether she had yet achieved a list of life goals, that particular observation would have to get a check. Because with Daddy's Little Girl, Champagne Pam--who proudly admitted to having reached the Big 4-0--is all grown up as a cabaret performer and should be a member of that rarified group who even a reviewer on a press comp should pay to see and hear.
BWW Recap: Tribute Show Honoring Musical Theater Legend Sheldon Harnick at the Harvard Club is Truly a Dutch Treat
May 7, 2013
I thought about many happy childhood musical theater memories last night while I attended the Dutch Treat Club's Annual Gold Medal Tribute Dinner and Show at the Harvard Club in honor of the legendary 'Fiddler of the Roof' lyricist Sheldon Harnick, who received the Club's Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts.
HANKS ON HEALTH: Why Women Athletes Are More Prone to Knee Injuries--And How to Avoid Them
May 7, 2013
Studies have shown that female athletes are more likely to damage their knee joint than their male counterparts. Here are the reasons why, and how active women of any age can attempt to keep serious knee injuries at bay.
BroadwayWorld.com Cabaret Writer Stephen Hanks Presents 'Stephen's Angels' at Iridium Jazz Club, 5/14
April 29, 2013
Stephen Hanks, BroadwayWorld.com Cabaret Columnist has produced and will host Stephen's Angels, a cabaret variety show presented by ScoBar Entertainment and slated for the Iridium Jazz Club on May 14 at 10pm. Stephen's Angels will introduce audiences to six 'smart, sassy, sexy young women, whose singing is sublime.' Five of the six ladies are currently preparing summer or fall cabaret shows for the Metropolitan Room, and one will be launching a CD release show at the Laurie Beechman Theater in June.
CABARET LIFE NYC: Sunday at the Cabaret with Corinna, Eva and Lianne -- Two Out of Three Ain't Bad
April 25, 2013
When you're a cabaret reviewer on the evening show prowl between Monday night and Saturday evening (although not every night, thank goodness), you'd like to think that the God of Cabaret would make Sunday a day of rest. No such luck, since the weekend allows clubs to book shows as early as brunch time. I learned this again early this month when I felt compelled to attend three shows starring charming female singers-Corinna Sowers-Adler at Stage 72 (the Triad), Eva Kantor at the Laurie Beechman, and Lianne Marie Dobbs at the Metropolitan Room. I didn't break my personal Sunday record of four shows in one day set in late January (yes, I should be committed), but there was a two-hour break in this mix so it still turned out to be an 8-hour cabaret extravaganza. (Thank you, oh God of Cabaret, for press comps!) While it would have been sweet for the musical marathon to have been a clean sweep of excellent shows, as Meat Loaf might croon, 'Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad.'
William Blake's Triumphant Etta James Tribute Show Transforms the Cafe Carlyle Into an R & B Concert Hall
April 20, 2013
Texas born and bred singer William Blake--who came to New York six years ago at age 24--has lately taken the town by storm with his terrific tribute show to the legendary Etta James. In the process, Blake has also managed to transform some of the town's most prestigious nightclub/cabaret venues into his own personal concert halls. First it was at Birdland, where in the summer of 2012 and with the support of 'Cast Party' impresario Jim Caruso, Blake launched his Echoes of Etta raucous, standing-room only crowds. Then last February, Blake, his five piece band and three girl backup singers, overpowered Joe's Pub. But the last two nights might have been Blake's most impressive performances to date, as he totally captured the crowd at the elegant and sedate Cafe Carlyle (for the room's new 10:45 'Second Act' sets). It was almost as if you were experiencing an R & B concert at Carnegie Hall.
HANKS ON HEALTH: Real Men Don't Eat Crap - A Guide to Healthy New Man Food
April 11, 2013
If anyone doesn't believe Americans have become expert at rationalizing and justifying their vices, especially when it comes to poor nutrition habits, just consider a recent Gallup survey about people and their weight. The survey reports that compared with 1990 Americans are on average 20 pounds heavier than they were 20 years ago (men from 180 pounds to 196 and women from 142 to 160). Even more shocking is that men and women both feel those higher numbers are close to an ideal weight. Just 39 percent of Americans characterize themselves as overweight. Us obese? No way.
HANKS ON HEALTH: Why Americans Can't Always Trust Rx Drugs
April 5, 2013
'I'll tell you why America has a drug problem,' begins a riff of the late and legendary comedian/satirist George Carlin. And before the audience can think his routine will be a commentary on illegal hallucinogens, Carlin careens into another track. 'Everybody has access to drugs because there are so many DRUG stores. Every three or four blocks, there's a big sign-DRUGS. Open all night-DRUGS. We deliver-DRUGS. Cut rate-DRUGS. It's the biggest thing on their signs: cosmetics, sundries-DRUGS! It's no accident that our country is so drug-oriented. The drug companies got us that way and they want to keep us that way. It all starts with that little colored aspirin for children.' While such a cogent commentary would be relevant today given the dangers of some prescription drugs, Carlin performed this drug routine on the album FM & AM in 1972-41 years ago. Carlin's comedic observations have always been ahead of the curve; it's a shame he turned out to be prescient on the subject of pharmaceutical drug use in America.
CABARET LIFE NYC: A Baker's Dozen--Catching Up On Show Reviews From a Long, Long Winter
April 1, 2013
It's April 1st. Do you know when your Spring is coming? During another longggggg New York winter, the good news is that there were a ton of warming cabaret shows. The bad news is that there were so many, even during this seemingly endless winter our intrepid reviewer Stephen Hanks didn't have enough time to review them all right after the performances. So in what is becoming a seasonal ritual, here he offers yet another compilation of 13 'catch-up' cabaret show reviews.
Lauren Fox's Transcendent Mitchell/Cohen Tribute Show in a New Jersey Concert Hall Is a Total Trip
March 30, 2013
Well, it took me almost a year and a half and a long car ride deep into New Jersey to do it, but when last Saturday night (March 23) I finally got a chance to see and hear Lauren Fox's Joni Mitchell/Leonard Cohen Tribute Show ('The painter and the poet who mesmerized the world with their songs,' as Fox put it), it was well worth the wait--and the trip. Actually, the show itself was a trip, as Fox not only embodied the look, spirit, and vocal timbre of Mitchell and her songs (if not completely reaching her soaring soprano), she also managed to channel the persona of the intense and mysterious machoness of Cohen simply by donning a fedora and maximizing her deeper register voice. It's not at all a surprise that Fox not only received rave media reviews and the 2012 MAC Award for 'Best Debut' for this show, but that a 750-seat theater like the recently-renovated, Art Deco style Landis in Vineland, NJ, would want to bring this stunning, 16-song cabaret set and Fox's transcendent performance to their stage
CABARET LIFE NYC: Darling and Ditzy Dana Lorge is Finally Back Hosting a New Variety Show at the Met Room
March 29, 2013
When Dana Lorge's run as a Variety Show hosted ended at the Iguana Restaurant last July-and after winning two 2012 MAC Awards for 'Best Variety Show' and 'Best Variety Show Host'-who knew she'd be reduced to being a cabaret audience member searching for a new showcase? But a Metropolitan Room Mentch has come to the rescue in the form of Bernie Furshpan (the Met Room's General Partner and Manager), who has provided Dana with a monthly forum for her unique brand of cabaret shtick beginning Friday, April 5 at 7-8:15 pm. While the new show won't be the two-hour plus extravaganza of yore featuring more than a dozen performers, Dana's new 'Variety Show' promises to feature a solid group of experienced and well-known cabaret and musical theater pros. For the April 5 opener, the Lorge Lineup features Richard Skipper, her former Award-winning Co-host from the Iguana days; film and stage actor Jim Brochu (of Zero Mostel One-Man Show fame), singers LaTanya Hall (from the CBS show 'Blue Bloods) and Peggy Herman Klat, Rick Crom (Creator of Newsical the Musical), and Mr. Furshpan, who will show off his stand-up comedy chops. But the real star of the show will always be the hilarious, unpredictable, darling Dana, who will both crack you up with her infectious humor and surprise you with her engaging singing performances.
Marissa Mulder Rolls Up Her Rainbow Sleeves, Raises Her Own Personal Bar, and Conquers Tom Waits Classics at the Metropolitan Room
March 28, 2013
Observing the evolution of young Marissa Mulder's cabaret career is like watching a high jumper going for the gold at the Olympic Games. With every show or performance, she and the creative teams around her set the bar just a little bit higher and she keeps clearing the dang thing. But with her new Tom Waits Tribute Show, which opened last night at the Metropolitan Room (and continues through Saturday night, all at 7pm), the bar was raised multiple notches, and damn if she didn't clear it with inches to spare. With Tom . . . In His Own Words/The Songs of Tom Waits, Mulder has vaulted herself into major cabaret performer territory and even managed to stick the landing.
BWW Reviews: Legendary Marilyn Maye's 'Maye-den Voyage' at 54 Below is Sensationally Smooth Sailing
March 8, 2013
Wednesday night was the second of Marilyn Maye's first 54 Below run (which will continue until March 16) and she sashayed around the stage in front of an almost full house like a woman of 35. Like most of her shows, Maye's performance was a 'live' cabaret Master Class for budding cabaret performers and seasoned professionals alike, and this 'Maye-den Voyage' never went adrift (thanks in part to solid and unobtrusive support from Tedd Frith on piano, Tom Hubbard on bass, and Jim Eklof on drums).
Jillian Laurain's 'Broadway' and Stacy Sullivan's Peggy Lee Tribute Give Audiences Saturday Night 'Fever'
March 6, 2013
The cabaret gods must be smiling on this reviewer because this past Saturday evening my wife and I celebrated her birthday with an intimate dinner in between a couple of totally engaging shows from two lovely ladies of cabaret; the beautiful Jillian Laurain paying homage to classic Broadway show tunes at the Metropolitan Room, and the beguiling Stacy Sullivan in her MAC and BroadwayWorld.com Award-nominated tribute to Peggy Lee, 'It's a Good Day,' at the Cafe Carlyle. For me and the Birthday Girl, it was definitely a good night.
Marilyn Maye to Present Lainie Kazan With 'Lifetime Achievement' Award at Bistro Awards Gala, 3/4
February 25, 2013
Who would have ever thought that the New York Cabaret scene would end up having almost as many awards shows as the film industry? The Nightlife Awards Show at Town Hall was presented on January 14, and the newly established BroadwayWorld.com New York Cabaret Awards Show filled the Metropolitan Room on February 21. The Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC) will hold it's 27th Annual MAC Awards Show on March 21 at B.B. King's Blues Club. But next up is the 28th Annual Bistro Awards Gala, which recognizes outstanding achievement in New York cabaret, jazz, and comedy, on March 4 at 6:30pm at the Gotham Comedy Club (208 West 23rd Street, Between 7th & 8th Ave). The evening, under the direction of Shellen Lubin, will once again be co-hosted by comedian and actor Jim David, and will feature performances from most of this year's Bistro-winning artists.
BWW Cabaret Winners Vereen, Maye, Brown, Stritch, Sullivan, Caruso and More Appear at NYC Cabaret Awards Show at Metropolitan Room Tonight
February 21, 2013
Performing legends Ben Vereen and Marilyn Maye, celebrated composer Jason Robert Brown, as well as cabaret stars Billy Stritch, KT Sullivan, Karen Kohler, Jim Caruso, and Colleen McHugh are among the winners of the first-ever BroadwayWorld.com New York Cabaret Awards, and who will appear in a star-studded show at the Metropolitan Room today, February 21 (6:30-9 pm). These entertainers and many others became award-winners after almost two months of voting and the casting of an astounding 10,000 votes over 20 categories on the Cabaret section of the BroadwayWorld.com website. The 2012 BroadwayWorld.com New York Cabaret Awards Show will be hosted by BroadwayWorld.com's lead Cabaret Reviewer/Columnist Stephen Hanks, while the show's Musical Director will be MAC Award-winning MD and composer Bill Zeffiro.