Brian Stokes Mitchell’s Cafe Carlyle Gig Is One of September’s Can’t-Miss NYC Cabaret Picks

For song-and-dance fans looking to get a bit of Broadway flavor in an intimate setting, September has plenty of solid cabaret picks from industry vets and strong voices. Here are our picks for the best cabaret performances to look forward to this month.

Tuesday, 9/15–Saturday, 9/26
Brian Stokes Mitchell
Café Carlyle
Tuesday–Friday at 8:45 p.m.; Saturday at 8:45 p.m. and 10:45 p.m., $65–$185

What’s especially savvy about this Broadway leading man is that he doesn’t push the Broadway-leading-man thing. Instead, he just plays the likable Joe who happens to have a great voice, great taste, and great looks. He chats amiably between freshening up the standards. He may or may not reprise anything he’s sung in “Ragtime” or “Kiss Me, Kate.” He may not warble anything either from his next Great White Way tuner, “Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.” That’s the mouthful in which he’ll reunite with “Ragtime” co-star Audra McDonald.

Wednesday, 9/16–Saturday, 9/19
Will Swenson
54 Below
7:00 p.m., $40–$85

Here’s another leading man whose enormous talent can barely be measured. He comes directly from playing James Tyrone in the Williamstown Theatre Festival revival of Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten, and, boy-o, did he prove his non-singing chops in the too-short run. Hardly incidentally, he shared that sizzling stage with his wife, the above-mentioned Audra McDonald, who’ll be the guest at his opening performance. Other guests show up on the succeeding nights, so look for him to conquer this new frontier.

Thursday, 9/24
Anthony de Mare
6:00 p.m., $25

Looking for something just about completely different? Here it is. It’s not totally completely different, because it’s yet another set devoted to that old fave Stephen Sondheim. The completely different aspect is that for once it’s not the man’s lyrics getting the close scrutiny. It’s his melodies. Concert pianist de Mare asked a goodly number of contemporary composers to “re-imagine” a Sondheim tune. He’ll play the results submitted by Steve Reich, Wynton Marsalis, Duncan Sheik, Nico Muhly, William Bolcom, and other considerable re-imaginers.

Sunday, 9/27
Ann Hampton Callaway
6:00 p.m., $30

The one-off evening has been tagged This Is Cabaret. Apparently, the extremely good cabaret and jazz thrush thinks the genre needs some explanation. She may be right, considering the current marginalized status of the great intimate-room entertainment category. She’ll sing items of the wide sort that can be heard on an average cabaret night. The extra-special guest is Steve Tyrell, who usually graces the Café Carlyle stage and will again this December. How smart she is to include the once and still shrewd music a&r fellow.

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