Kyle Riabko takes the stage during the 2017 Cabaret 313 series to share his personal connections with several songs.

Kyle Riabko takes the stage during the 2017 Cabaret 313 series to share his personal connections with several songs.

Photo provided by Brandon Coulter


Cabaret 313 offers a unique music experience for Detroit

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published August 30, 2018

 Carmen Cusack was one of last year’s performers in the Cabaret 313 series, in which local and nationally recognized musicians perform in the cabaret style at venues across Detroit.

Carmen Cusack was one of last year’s performers in the Cabaret 313 series, in which local and nationally recognized musicians perform in the cabaret style at venues across Detroit.

Photo provided by Brandon Coulter

 Kelli Barrett and Jarrod Spector are among the performers who took part in last year’s Cabaret 313 series. This year’s series will feature shows at six different venues between September and May.

Kelli Barrett and Jarrod Spector are among the performers who took part in last year’s Cabaret 313 series. This year’s series will feature shows at six different venues between September and May.

Photo provided by Brandon Coulter

DETROIT — For those looking for more intimacy and originality from their music, Cabaret 313 is returning for six new shows during its 2018-19 season.

Cabaret 313 is a nonprofit with about half its budget coming from the sale of tickets, while the other half comes from donations. Each year since 2013, Cabaret 313 has invited cabaret performers to do shows in a variety of venues around the city of Detroit.

“There’s nothing like it in Michigan,” said Allan Nachman, the founder of Cabaret 313. “It’s a unique genre of musical performance that you can usually only hear in places like New York, San Francisco or Chicago. We bring in performers to Detroit so people can see what the genre of cabaret is, and see it without having to go to another city.”

As Detroit’s sole cabaret presenter, Cabaret 313 has presented some of the genre’s most recognized performers, including Megan Hilty, Alan Cumming and John Pizzarelli. Since its establishment six years ago, Cabaret 313 has grown to include both veterans and rising stars of the cabaret scene, and it has expanded into venues such as the Michigan Opera Theatre’s Black Box Theatre, The Cube at the Max M. Fisher Music Center and the Players Club Playhouse.

“Cabaret is an intimate evening of song where the performer comments either on why they like the song, what the song means to them or perhaps what the songwriter had in mind while it was being written,” Nachman explained. “The evening has a trajectory or theme where the performer will weave together songs into that theme. It almost always has a small audience … and there’s a lot of interaction with the audience.”

The series will kick off with a performance by Rachel Bay Jones on Saturday, Sept. 22, at The Cube at the Max M. Fisher Music Center.

This season features Jones; Carole J. Bufford; Jillian Louis; the University of Michigan Musical Theatre Seniors; Kate Baldwin; and 11 O’Clock Numbers with Farah Alvin, Brian Charles Rooney and Mia Gerachis.

“I met Allan Nachman a few years ago at a club in New York, and he brought me out to do a show a few years ago for Cabaret 313, and I love coming back,” Bufford said. “There’s a really savvy audience here. I love how (Cabaret 313) highlights the art form and highlights the city of Detroit. Being in several different venues really let me fall in love with the city, and it makes it really unique compared to any other place I’ve played.”

Bufford, who will perform on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, at the Detroit Institute of Arts, said cabaret is a unique genre of performance that allows musicians to perform in a way they don’t get to otherwise.

“It’s storytelling through song in an intimate venue. It’s all about telling the stories of the song. So you need to have a beginning, middle and end to your performance and really break the fourth wall and connect with audience members,” she said. “It’s such a gratifying feeling to get that immediate reaction. You give out energy and they give it back to you. It thrills me as an artist.”

Bufford said each show by each performer offers something radically different. She is trying something new even for her with her upcoming Cabaret 313 performance.

“The theme this year is “You Don’t Own Me,” and cabaret usually takes a lot of music from the standards of the ’20s and ’30s, so I’m taking a look at songs by a lot of women in the ’60s and ’70s, which I view as sort of the new standards,” she said. “This includes songs by people such as Tina Turner, Dusty Springfield, Janis Joplin and Carol King, which highlight female empowerment and show how the women in that period were creating such great music. I also wanted to showcase a lot of different genres.”

Nachman said Cabaret 313 tries to bring in talented artists known throughout the world to the Detroit showcase.

“Every year, one requirement for us is scheduling world-class performers,” he said. “This year, we have Rachel Bay Jones, who got a Tony (Award) for best performance in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’; we have Kate Baldwin, who was just nominated for a Tony for her role in “‘Hello Dolly.’”

He added that Cabaret 313 not only tries to schedule recognizable names, but also up-and-coming talent.

“What we’re trying to do that we haven’t done in the past is keep our eye on rising stars and bring in people who are still starting out but we think will be world-class performers in the next couple of years,” Nachman said. “We’ve also added more performances. We also have the University of Michigan (Musical Theatre) Seniors who will be performing.”

In addition to the performances, Cabaret 313 organizes classes for local music students in which they get to work with the performers.

“One thing that differentiates us from similar organizations is the master classes. This is us bringing in our stars who will then run a class for groups like the Mosaic Youth Theatre,” Nachman said. “The students sing for the performer, who then gives them suggestions to improve their performances. They also get to talk to the performer about being on Broadway and performing.”

Tickets for all Cabaret 313 shows cost $60 for general seating, $125 for preferred seating and $25 for those ages 40 and younger. Tickets are available by going to www.cabaret313.org or by calling (313) 405-5061.

“This is music that a lot of people grew up on,” said Bufford. “It’s exciting to see them in a space like this. We take songs people know and turn them slightly on their ear, so they’re still recognizable but performed in a way you may have never heard before.”