Cabaret, Symphony family concerts and more

By Lois Caplan

CABARET HAS ALWAYS BEEN one of my favorite forms of entertainment. St. Louis has become home to several Cabaret programs, thanks mainly to impresario Jim Dolan, who bills himself as the Presenters Dolan. First, let me tell you about the venue where many of these cabarets are performed: the 100-year-old Gaslight Theater, a remodeled two-story building at 358 N. Boyle Avenue in the Central West End (between Maryland and McPherson avenues). 

Intimate is one of the hallmarks of cabaret, and the Gaslight Theater is surely that. The acoustics are good, and there’s not a bad seat in the house. One of the advantages of the Gaslight Theatre is that it adjoins the West End Grill & Pub, where you can dine before or after a performance or pick up a drink to have at your seat. Street parking is available.

Last week, I heard Ken Haller in a stellar performance of his show “Mama’s Boy,” a sort of tribute to his mother that coincided with his 60th birthday. Ken, a pediatrician by day, is an extraordinary cabaret performer in his spare time. The show was filled with music from Broadway, Hollywood and the Great American Songbook, music his mother introduced him to and loved. Unfortunately, Ken’s show was for only two nights, but I will keep you posted if future performances are planned. 

Eight more cabaret performers will appear during Dolan’s Gaslight Cabaret Festival series. On Thursday, Nov. 6, locals Joe Dryer and Rosemary Watts will perform. Other performers, mostly out-of-towners, are scheduled through Nov. 22. For a schedule and tickets, visit gaslightcabaretfestival.com or call 314-725-4200. 

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ST. LOUIS SYMPHONY Family Concerts feature collaborations with the St. Louis Zoo and the St. Louis Science Center. Each performance is designed with a younger audience in mind. Three of the season’s 3 p.m. Sunday concerts remain, and tickets are still available. Order online at stlsymphony.org or by phone at 314-534-1700.

On Jan. 25, the program will feature “The Science of Sound & the Art of Noise.” SLSO resident conductor Steven Jarvi will lead demonstrations of sound waves and sound creation using instruments in the orchestra.  

“Bach, Rock & Hip Hop,” Feb. 22, will transport the audience back in time and to the present again, from the “William Tell Overture” to “Beatbox Bach.” 

“Forces of Nature: The Planets” will pair images with music in a display designed to showcase how the power of nature has inspired famous classical works April 19. Hint: The kids will hear John Williams’ main theme from “Star Wars.” 

WINE + ART EVENT, a fundraiser for the Gateway Men’s Chorus, is planned for Thursday, Nov. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Kranzberg Arts Center at Grand Boulevard and Olive Street. I am told that the event will feature a range of art from local artists, an assortment of wines for tasting, very good fare from St. Louis restaurants and live music. General admission is $20 and includes five complimentary tastings. VIP admission is $35, which includes unlimited tastings, plus a souvenir wine glass and a few other treats (you may want to plan for a taxi ride home after taking advantage of the unlimited wine tastings). Tickets are available at gmcstl.org or by phone at 314-287-5669. Proceeds from this event support the 28th concert season of the Gateway Men’s Chorus, which is a fine, well trained chorus worth hearing and supporting.