Spotlight on Cabaret

by Tracy Adams


The line between jazz singing and cabaret singing is often fine, blurred, and crossed—with frequently spectacular results that delight Chicagoland listeners. Chicago Jazz Magazine is thrilled to partner with Chicago Cabaret Professionals via the monthly column/calendar, “Spotlight on Cabaret.”


Top L to R: Anne Burnell, Lynne Jordan, Reginald Robinson. Middle: Garrett Johannsen, Jeezy’s Juke Joint, Feathered Beaus. Bottom: Claudia Hommel, Tammy McCann, Hilary Ann Feldman. Collage by Tricia Marschman.

Chicago Cabaret Professionals, founded in 1998, is a non-profit alliance of advocates for the art of Cabaret. Cabaret has been at the heartbeat of intimate nightclubs for more than a century, where singers tell a story with music from The Great American Songbook to jazz and blues, from burlesque and Broadway to comedy and satire.


March shines one of the largest, brightest spotlights cabaret has ever seen when the city celebrates Chicago Cabaret Week as part of its 2020 Year of Chicago Music: Music in the Key of Chicago. Chicago Cabaret Week has over 45 shows at 18 venues across 11 days! As Gershwin so aptly put it, who could ask for anything more?


The schedule highlights the rich diversity of cabaret styles. Catch Scott Gryder for hilarity (PianoForte, 3/20), Anne and Mark Burnell’s Julie London tribute on the jazz side (Green Mill, 3/25), Hilary Ann Feldman’s feats of storytelling in Laughing Matters of Carol Burnett (Davenport’s, 3/25), Joan Curto’s Broadway swagger in Everybody Says Don’t: The Music of Stephen Sondheim, or the interactive fun of The Nitz & Howe Experience (Davenport’s, 3/28). There are so many more; check out the full schedule (chicagocabaretweek.org).


This embarrassment of riches offers a unique opportunity for both the cabaret aficionado to see some of their favorite acts and the newcomer to sample a broad menu of performances for the low price of $25, $15, or less. The chance to see so many world-class performers in such a short period of time is one any lover of music in intimate settings should not miss.

Of course, this is not all that’s happening on the Chicago cabaret scene in March. Many of the Chicago Cabaret Week venues feature performances all month long. Here are a just a few of the venues:


City Winery (1200 W Randolph, 312.733.9463)

Davenport’s Piano Bar + Cabaret (1383 N Milwaukee, 773.278.1830)

Drew’s on Halsted (3201 N Halsted, 773.244.9191)

Green Mill (4802 N Broadway, 773.878.5552)

Le Piano (6970 N Glenwood, 773.209.7631)


Chicago Cabaret Week is brought to you by Choose Chicago, WDCB 90.9FM, Chicago Cabaret Professionals, Acts Of Kindness Cabaret, The Cabaret Project, Working In Concert and is part of the Year Of Chicago Music: Music in the Key of Chicago.


For a complete Cabaret calendar listing of March and beyond, visit www.chicagocabaret.org. For more information on Chicago Cabaret Week, go to ChicagoCabaretWeek.org.

Tracy Adams has spent more than four decades on stages of every kind, from intimate cabarets to large auditoriums, hotel restaurants to European cathedrals. For seven years, he was the restaurant writer for Gay Chicago Magazine. He spends his days as a training manager for an accounting firm. All of these endeavors reflect his personal mission in life, which is to help people grow.

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