Pittsburghers have one more chance this year to see a top flight cabaret performance in our fair city. Cabaret Pittsburgh - the Riverview Series has, for two seasons, provided excellent vocalists who perform in the intimate setting of the Symphony Room at the Renaissance Hotel downtown. We are lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy singers of this caliber without taking a trip to New York, Chicago or San Francisco. What series founder Stephanie Riso offers in this series should remove any pre-conceived "bad cabaret" notions. This is "good cabaret," more like the shows offered in intimate, smoky nightclubs of yesteryear - top quality vocalists presenting songs written for singers.
From this season's schedule, Mary Cleere Haran, Tony deSare, and sisters Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway have all performed at top New York cabaret venues like Feinstein's at the Regency and the Cafe Carlyle. And Craig Carnelia's songs have made appearances there as well - we were lucky enough to see him perform in the Pittsburgh series this year, too. He treated the audience to a wonderful mix of theater and story songs from his own pen, which he performed with a casual air and resounding talent. As his own best accompanist, Carnelia's piano and guitar talents contributed greatly to his performance, an unassuming and cozy one. Through songs he wrote for such shows as Working, Is there Life After High School and The Sweet Smell of Success, as well as personal songs like the beautiful "Lisa's Song" written for his girlfriend Lisa Brescia, Carnelia displayed a quiet energy and showed that he enjoys performing as much as we enjoy listening. The introductions and background information he provided for the songs made his performance all the more accessible.
The Pittsburgh Theatre District offers local cabaret performances at their Cabaret Theatre, but the offerings of the Riverview Series represent a level of performers that we rarely see here in a solo show format. Last year's inaugural season was equally solid (Robert Cuccioli and Joyce Breach among others) - it's a little New York in Pittsburgh. Hear's hoping for continued seasons of this high quality series.
On Friday, November 10, Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway perform Relative Harmony with Alex Rybeck at the Renaissance Hotel, 107 Sixth Street. Tickets for 7:30 and 9:30 shows are on sale through ProArtsTickets.org, 412-394-3353. "A Performer's Path," a meet and greet with the performers hosted by Mike McGann of WJAS, will take place on Thursday, November 9th from 6:00pm - 7:30pm as well. For more information, visit www.cabaretpgh.org.