Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco

Society Cabaret

Also see Richard's review of Detroit

For almost two years, Society Cabaret in the Hotel Rex has been a great cabaret for young and favorite Bay Area artists to perform. The management now adds readings of new musicals by local composers to their schedule. They will be presenting four such new musicals per year.

Society Cabaret recently presented their first musical in this series, Passersby by 21-year-old composer and lyricist Ben T. Montrym. Passersby featured over 30 songs in its two hour, 20 minute presentation. They were reminiscent of the style of William Finn with a little Andrew Lippa thrown into the mix. Granted, the show was a little rough around the edges and some of the songs could be eliminated to make a more solid package for producers to hear.

The story takes place during an entire senior year of high school, from September through spring graduation. It centers on Elise, who is on Xanax. She believes herself to be powerful, cunning, and irresistible, but to her fellow students she is not. Her friends include two gay students, Jake and Ben. Ben remains extremely cheerful until he nose dives into a pill addiction toward the end of his senior year. There are other student characters who appear in this musical.

Five young students took center stage along with the composer. Annie Whitacre, David Ness, Damla Cehreli, and Katherine Tsung all showed mellifluous voices. Eighteen-year-old Isabel Beeman had a pulsating voice as Elsie (she will be going to college majoring in theatre). Ben T. Montrym, with his pitch perfect voice, took several singing parts in this rock pop musical, along with C. Scott Lacy who not only sang but assisted them on the piano.

Passersby was presented on June 19, 2015, at Society Cabaret in the Hotel Rex, Union Square, 562 Sutter Street, San Francisco. For information on future shows at Society Cabaret, visit

- Richard Connema