I want to talk today about the art of Cabaret performance. I need to make an important distinction right now. The concert or stage setting may not be the training ground for performing Cabaret, for I believe that the only way to understand how to connect with the audience is to get closer to them.
And the way to do that is to play in a venue that forces you to look into their eyes and guage their response to you. It moves you to communicate with THEM rather than being protected FROM them by being high on a Stage, and it also keeps you from becoming overly involved with the sound of your own voice.

Cabaret consists of not just singing, but of interacting with the audience through patter and story-telling.

When you do a "cabaret act", you choose material that will reveal the essence of who you are, and will literally cast a spell on the audience and make them hang on your every word, spoken or sung. When you let them KNOW you, they become your friends and they feel connected and special to be there listening to you.

I am always amazed when I have a student who tells me he/she wants to be the next "American Idol", and then when I ask them to perform for me, they become embarrassed and make some excuse like, "with no mike?" or, "It makes me nervous when you look at me."

Let me say right here and now, if you can't look at your audience, and I mean into their eyes, then you're not a performer, at least not yet. Singing Cabaret-style allows you to learn how to present your own unique talent and your particular spin on life as a performer, for an intimate audience. It differs from other onstage disciplines, in that the "wall" between artist and audience is erased. There are no bright lights in your face to shield you from seeing how you're going over. When you sing in an intimate setting, you are inviting the audience into your world.

Cabaret allows you to share who you are and what you feel. And this type of performing can start in your own living room, singing for friends family members. The idea is to get intimate and tell the story of who you are through your voice and your musical selections.

In cabaret, you can sing anything, as long as it is justified by a personal connection to the material. Cabaret acts can have a theme or not, can honor a single composer or be about someone's life, as long as it's an honest representation of you, the performer, and engages the audience on a personal level. When I left NYC years ago and was doing a cabaret act on the road, I always included a set of songs about "home". Luckily for me, there are a plethora of songs about NYC, so I had a wealth of material to choose from. I'd start out with something like, "We'll have Manhattan", and slowly build through 4 or 5 more songs to the big finale of "New York, New York". My audiences from Peoria to Butte, from Kennebunkport to Phoenix really loved that set.

I also had sets of Cole Porter Medleys, Frank Sinatra Songs, and always always always did an entire set of audience REQUESTS.

So what do you want to say at this point in your life? Choose songs that will tell your listeners all about that! Why? Because keeping your performance honest will convince your audience of your sincerity and make them adore you. That's why!

Author's Bio: 

Chrys Page is the founder and Director of Sing Your Life Enterprises. A singer, entertainer and vocal coach for 30+ years, Chrys has performed in venues from New York to LA, from Toronto to Mexico City, and boasts of having taught over 500 students.

Chrys started out in New York City singing with college bands, had her own radio show in Ithaca, NY before going on the road with big bands like Les and Larry Elgart, Sy Zentner, and the Tommy Dorsey orchestra with Frank Sinatra Jr. But not before acquiring her degrees in Vocal Performance and Education.

"It is my commitment to you, the singer, to help you reveal the voice you know is inside of you, striving to come out and be the perfect expression you know you can be. I believe that if you have a "burning desire" to sing, and you believe you are "called" to it as your contribution to Universe, that we can help you eliminate bad vocal habits, performance anxiety, and any limiting beliefs you may have about your ability to succeed. It's my mission in life to help as many singers as I can discover the voice inside of them, and then use their gift to fully express their essence in the world."