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ARTS

Don't stop the music

Orlando Cabaret Festival at Mad Cow isn't just the same old song and dance

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Finding his voice - Jesse Nager, founder of the Broadway Boys, performs Songs I Didn't Get to Sing, a collection of, well, songs he didn't get to sing in various shows, at the Orlando Cabaret Festival


E. Mani Cadet - Black on Broadway: E. Mani Cadet is joined by Tonya Phillips Staples and Larry Ballad, with Steve McKinnon on piano, in a celebration of "some of African-Americans' greatest moments from opera, jazz, theater and Motown." This show is not to be missed! From the opening number, Feeling Good (not actually from a black show, this song was written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1965 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint - the Smell of the Crowd), you know that you are in the presence of a trio of highly skilled and classically trained musical performers.

Cadet and company then proceed to take us on an exhilarating musical journey that includes songs from Scott Joplin's opera, Tremonisha, George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, the musical revue Ain't Misbehavin' and the Broadway shows, The Color Purple and The Wiz. The singing is exceptional throughout as are the harmonies and the humor. Highlights include a Stevie Wonder impersonation in "Superstition" and a gorgeous version of "Midnight Train to Georgia."

It Was a Very Good Year 1956: The troupe of Bagley, Barnes, Kelly and Kelly go back a decade with songs from the musicals Bells Are Ringing, L'il Abner, Kismet, My Fair Lady and Peter Pan. There is some doo-wop, some Elvis, a Righteous Brothers tune and even some Gogi Grant.

All four performers have their strong moments, though the two women display a much broader range in their deliveries. The gentlemen are actually at their best when backing up the ladies with smooth harmonies.

The Orlando Cabaret Festival continues at Mad Cow through May 15. I can't wait to go back. Maybe life is a cabaret, after all.

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