What a blast! My two cabaret performances at New York’s famed Metropolitan Room this past weekend were a huge success. Saturday night was sold out, and the audience was comfortably full on Sunday evening. It was a joy for me to be able to perform in front of friendly, forgiving faces.
This was an entirely new experience for me. Between finishing college and until three years ago, I had never sung in front of an audience. But then the late Isaiah Scheffer encouraged me when he cast me as Mitt Romney’s dog in the Thalia Follies.
During all of my years in the ring I had a set routine about when and how to prepare for each show. But on Saturday night I had no routine to help control my nerves. Things were very hectic. The show immediately before mine ran very late, so my sound check and vocal warm up were condensed into a brief three minutes. And I could barely make my way back downstairs to the dressing room because of all the guests who were already waiting to find their seats. I experienced a rush of butterflies, all the while being nearly overwhelmed by the incredible turnout. It’s difficult to describe my contradictory feelings: all the friendly faces calmed my nerves while simultaneously contributing to my anxiety because I didn’t want to disappoint. What an unusual skew of emotions for a performer! I’ve always been a bit nervous before every performance and actually believe that if you don’t get nervous before a show, you probably don’t care enough.
It took me a couple songs on Saturday night to relax into the performance, but after that, it was relatively smooth sailing. And I eased into the performance even quicker on Sunday. The wonderful Lainie Cooke, who joined me onstage to sing “Do You Love Me?” and our crowd-pleasing finale song “Mention My Name in Sheboygan,” had given me a great note: “Just tell the story.” Her words stayed with me all night. Many of the songs I chose to sing, especially those originally performed by the incomparable Danny Kaye, are story-based, and I’ve been a storyteller my whole life, so Lainie’s words were a great comfort for me to just focus on doing what I do best.
I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who contributed to the success of the show. The entire staff at the Metropolitan Room were wonderful in organizing the event and keeping track of guests for the two performances. My guest performers Lainie Cooke and Bradley Jones were professionals from beginning to end. Both of them had wonderful solo performances. (I may even have to steal Bradley’s solo song, “Very Soft Shoes” from Once Upon a Mattress, since it’s been stuck in my head ever since the performance.) And of course, I never would have survived the show without the support and brilliance of our pianist, Dennis Buck. Let me tell you, the man is a genius–he could make a frog sound good. And on Saturday and Sunday … he did!
I made sure to plant myself by the door so that I could say hello to everyone on their way out of the Metropolitan Room. (I also sold several copies of my book at the “gift shop” … the lobby coffee table.) Nearly everyone I spoke with was encouraging about the show, and many made comments about making this an annual tradition.
Well, I surely do like the idea of getting to do this again.