Category Archives: Cabaret

Kurt Weill Cabaret

With Kurt Weill’s career as her guide, Elise LaBarge steps through the bawdy Weimar Republic of the 1920’s, the romantic, frivolous Paris of the 30’s, and the stylish, swinging New York of the 30’s and 40’s in this cabaret concert. Stephen Hargreaves joins on the piano, and Rebecca Richey on violin.

The show is Sunday, November 16th at 7pm. Please reserve a table ahead of time to guarantee a seat in the music room by calling 773-465-9801.

Uncommon Ground‘s delectable dinner, drink and dessert menu will be available throughout the evening, and the $15/person cover charge will simply be added to the final bill.

Please note: this is at the Devon location!

(née LaBarge)


I have already been asked multiple times if I plan on taking my fiancé’s last name when we marry in May. Since we still have half a year until that big day, I imagine I’ll get the question another hundred times, or so. He has a nice last name, he does, but it’s Scottish, not French. And what with my affinity for France and the music it has birthed, well, it’s hard to part with the current version of the name my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grandfather brought over from Normandy in the 1600s. Call me sentimental. Call me nostalgic. It’s in my genes. Seriously. You should have met my grandfather. And it’s what makes me step on stage each night.

That sense of sentimental nostalgia will make me step on stage next month, too, when I present my first solo cabaret in Chicago.  Robert de La Berge, I hope you’d approve.

Stay in bed.

I was just searching for a quote I’m sure I heard on NPR years ago about Aristotle and naps and some sort of validation for staying in bed longer this morning.

I didn’t find the exact story I was thinking of, but this is close:

In the end, I really didn’t need the validation, because I had already decided to stay in bed longer today.  In fact, I required it of myself.  And in doing so, I relaxed enough to contemplate a few things, and then I answered some of the lingering creative questions I had about my upcoming Paris cabaret.  All from my bed.  I feel like a million bucks.

My advice?  Next time you feel overwhelmed and unfocused and just want to think, make yourself stay in bed an extra hour or two.  If you need permission, just ask Aristotle.


Cinderellas for hire

We’ve performed this show a couple of times now, once at Old Warson Country Club, and once as a house concert for 60 Union Avenue Opera patrons.  Our little story has taken on a life of its own, and we’re ready to share it again and again and again.

What’s not to love about 5 completely different Cinderellas?  One is sassy, the next a little dumb (actually, a lot dumb). There’s the overthinker, the mopey one (she’s French, of course) and let’s not forget the most important–the romantic Cinderella (she had her wedding planned long, long ago).

Oh, sweet Prince, what to do with this bevy of beautiful maidens?


Taking stock of the situation

I tossed my get-up for this weekend on my bed earlier today.  It’s important to be sure the pieces are in order, you know.  After all, it’s almost go time.

And underneath it all, my pink, homemade-with-love, childhood blanket waits for me.

You can dress a girl in fringe and red, but she’s still a softy deep down, I dare say.

A lotta keeps

I had hoped this weekend’s Lotte Lenya Competition finals would provide some career-path clarity.  After all, standing up in front of a panel of judges and curious audience members twice in one day should shed a little bit of light on how it feels to be nurtured, appreciated, and scrutinized all at the same time–in a nutshell, how it feels to be a performing artist.  If it feels bad, then maybe it’s time to change directions.  If it feels good, then maybe it’s time to punch up the efforts and take advantage of the momentum.

Of course, nothing is ever that simple, and clarity rarely comes with want.

After the singing was over on Saturday night, the judges disappeared to continue the “lively discussion” they had started earlier in the day, promising to return with a list of winners.  The audience shuffled about, awaiting the results. The singers nervously chattered in the green room, awaiting the results.   A couple of shufflers walked by some chatterers and stopped.  “You,” the lady who showed up to Kilbourn Hall on a whim said to one of my colleagues, “you made me cry.  I have no idea why; it must have been something in the music, or what you did, but you made me cry.”  Bingo.  Job well done, dear contestant.

When the judges returned, the audience welcomed the 15 singer-actors with applause.  It was an applause filled with a similar kind of “You made me cry” affection.  Ah, I think we did our jobs, dear contestants.

After introductions, each of the three panel members said a few (and sometimes more) words.   Then more applause.  And in the end, everyone–audience, judges, directors, administrators, singers, accompanists–seemed to be singing, “there might be a box, but we’re not sure what it is, so don’t worry about fitting into it.  We like what you’re doing.  Keep working on it.  Keep expressing the music according to its style.  Keep expressing the drama that inspires the music.  Keep inspiring the music with the drama.  Keep letting the story come out of you and keep telling it.  Keep stirring our souls.  Keep us laughing.  Keep crying.  Keep us crying.  Keep sharing the excitement.  Yes, keep sharing.”

Inspiration came, mais hélas, clarity cameth not.  “Everyone has her own path,” Lisa Vroman (and thousands of people before her) affirmed.  Okay, great, but how do I get one and who’s going to give me the topo map?  I want a path, I want a path!

And then I looked back and saw it.  “Hey, there it is!” I thought.  I don’t suppose I know where it’s going, but I’ve been making one all this time, and I think I’ll keep on…

2010 Lotte Lenya Competition