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A FREE Virtual Stream on Facebook and YouTube

With Mark Singer and the Bob Dawson Trio

Special Guest Darcy Dunn


Premieres Saturday, June 4, 2022 @ 8:00 pm

On the Catskill Mountain Foundation's Facebook and YouTube pages

This event is FREE!

Manhattan Cabaret

Tune in to the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Facebook and YouTube pages on Saturday, June 4 at 8 pm for a special evening called  Manhattan Cabaret, hosted by Mark Singer and backed by the Bob Dawson Trio, with special guest Darcy Dunn. Together they will present some of the best-loved repertoire of the genre, and offer a behind-the-scenes look into a world that sadly is no longer, but will not be quickly forgotten. Don your evening finest (or your PJs … we won’t tell), mix yourself a cocktail, and enjoy!

For those old enough to remember, Manhattan in the 1940s, 50s and 60s was a magical place. Around almost every corner was some sort of nightclub, packed with people from all walks of life. Singers, comedians, magicians … you name it … provided the entertainment, the drinks flowed freely and everyone was out for a good time.

Hit your favorite club on the right night, and maybe you would get the chance to hear your favorite movie star or famous singer perform … or just catch a glimpse as they held court. Or maybe you would get lucky and hear a new talent that would go on to achieve great fame: Barbra Streisand first performed at a little hole-in-the-wall called the Bon Soir.

The names of the clubs, their owners, and the performers who inhabited this world will go down in the history of New York City. There was the Blue Angel, the Bon Soir, The Den in the Duane, and the Little Club. One of the pioneers was Bertha Levine, aka Madame Spivy Lavoe, who ran Spivy’s Roof, one of the most popular clubs of the era. It was there that the legendary Mabel Mercer performed, along with the likes of Moms Mabley, Thelma Carpenter, Paul Lynde, Martha Raye, Bea Arthur, and Liberace. The always over-the-top Ethel Merman heckled performers she didn’t think were up to snuff. And Bobby Short became synonymous with the best of the best of New York City nightclub entertainment, performing for decades at the Café Carlyle.

This show is one that is close to the heart of creator Mark Singer. “Singing this music is a dream come true for me,” he says. Mark’s brother, the noted music journalist and author Barry Singer, loves musical theater and growing up introduced Mark to the music.  “He played this kind of music all the time, and I became a huge Sinatra fan. These are songs that I’ve loved forever, and the musicians I’m working with are incredible.”  

Those musicians are the Bob Dawson Trio–pianist Bob Dawson, bass player Tom Kirchmer, and drummer Tony Tedesco. This group has been performing the standards for several years at the Harvard Club in Manhattan.

“I met Bob almost 20 years ago,” says Mark. The two live next door to each other in Manhattan, and didn’t know one another until one day when Bob overheard Mark working on some music on his terrace, which is just below Bob’s apartment: “Suddenly Bob stuck his head out of his window and said ‘that sounds interesting.’ And so we started to get to know each other.”

As one of New York’s premier entertainers for high society events, Bob performed all over the city, and a few years later approached Mark with an idea for their first collaboration. “He said ‘I’m playing an event at the new Marriott downtown, do you want to come down and sing some songs?’”

“Then about five years ago, we met up on the street and Bob said, ‘I’m doing a gig at the Harvard Club, do you want to come sing some songs?’ So I put together a list of songs.” That first performance soon turned into a semi-regular appearance at the private venue.

For those who have never visited the Harvard Club, it is a truly imposing place. The enormous, stately room is decorated with animal heads and pictures of famous alumni. There is a dress code (the musicians wear black tie), you can’t use your cell phone, and you can’t be so loud that you disturb the diners. “I didn’t know what to expect,” laughs Mark. “I was quite nervous … I ended up singing under the portrait of John F. Kennedy, with Teddy Roosevelt looking on from my left.” By the end of the night, he had sung well over 20 songs (“Bob just kept calling them out, ”) and the seeds of a new collaboration were sown. They kept performing together at the Harvard Club, and gradually their repertoire grew to over 80 songs. “It is a lot of fun,” said Mark. “We never do the same song the same way twice. I love the element of not knowing what’s going to happen. Bob’s playing is so engaging and virtuosic, and Tom and Tony are unbelievable. It’s not only that they know every song and can play it at the drop of a hat. It’s that they—all three of them—invest every number with such great rhythm and pulse and spontaneity. We go off what each of us is doing, and with musicians of this caliber it’s like performing on the high wire … with a safety net.”

When COVID hit, many musicians suddenly found themselves without anywhere to perform. “I missed performing with the trio and I knew that gigs were hard to come by.” says Mark “I’d just produced Wanda’s Visit for the Catskill Mountain Foundation and with their live performance venues closed they were looking for things to present virtually. So I pitched the idea of a night of cabaret, similar to what I’d been doing with the trio in the city at the HC, and Peter and Sarah Finn loved it. We filmed it at the Doctorow Center in Hunter.”

Filming a cabaret performance—a medium that most people associate with a live production—presents some challenges. “I realized that for this film, something had to link all of the songs together. I found a copy of a book called Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of New York Cabaret, by James Gavin.”  It was from this history that Mark found the inspiration to tell the stories—in words and images—of the colorful personalities that inhabited this world. Viewers will be fascinated by these short snippets of history presented between sets of songs.  

Mark also wanted his wife, singer Darcy Dunn, to be a part of the show. Mark and Darcy are frequent collaborators: together they presented the first production ever staged at the Catskill Mountain Foundation, and many may remember them as Jim and Marsha in last year’s streaming performance of the hilarious play, Wanda’s Visit. Manhattan Cabaret is a very different, but equally entertaining show.

Manhattan Cabaret will premiere on the Catskill Mountain Foundation’s Facebook (facebook.com/catskillmtn) and YouTube (youtube.com/catskillmountainfoundation) pages  on Saturday, June 4 at 8:00 pm. The show is free!



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