by Ron Squeri, February 2008 guest blogger
Last night, I was talking to someone about cabaret, and something struck me, (and no, this time, it wasn’t our cat):
The job of a cabaret performer is to put their audience at ease.
If we do that, the audience, our new found friends, will have a good time, and will excuse many slight imperfections. Of course for me I long to see the imperfections, they prove that the performer is alive. As performers, we have to remember our audience is there to enjoy themselves. I have never gone to a show and thought, “crap I am going to hate every minute of this”. I go with the expectation that I am going to be entertained.
There are so many ways as performers we get in our own way. We rush to get new material into shows, leaving us shaky on lyrics, and more importantly interpretation. The audience can sense it, (like our cat) making them uncomfortable for us. I was once told by a cabaret guru that they would never put a song into a show until they had worked on it for at least a year. I personally think that is a lot of time, but in my experience, I would have to admit that at least 3 – 6 months is my preferred working time for a song.
Another way that we shoot ourselves in the foot is letting the audience “see” our work. I personally don’t want to see a therapy session, (unless the show is billed as such). Tears, screaming, and breaking down are fine in the development process, but should not appear in the final product. Of course, one of the best ways to hook your audience is to be edgy, or on the edge, just not over it. I find it much more moving, as an audience member, to see someone so full of emotion, that they are on the verge of a breakdown, as opposed to actually watching it. Again, our job is to put the audience at ease.