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Detroit has a rich music scene. On any given Saturday night, you can choose from a playbill of jazz, R&B, electronic, rock, or even gospel performances.
But until this year, one performance you could not see is a cabaret. Metro Detroiters Sandi Reitelman and Allan Nachman changed all that with the birth of Cabaret 313.
Cabaret are live musical performances that can range from jazz to musical theater or European styles. They first glided onto the scene with the debut of Le Chat Noir’s (“The Black Cat”) in Paris in 1896, and were later imported to the U.S. in 1911.
Unlike big broadway shows, cabaret performances are usually held in smaller, more intimate theaters, and the audience sits at cafe tables rather than in theater seating. An intimate connection between the artist and their audience is one of the unique characteristics of cabaret.
“There’s an excitement and buzz when you’re 20-feet away; you feel like they’re singing to you,” Sandi said. “You see the look in their eye, the movement of their body, the expression…you get it on a very personal level.”
Cabaret performers are adept at creating a program that reaches audience members with humor, edge or intellect. It’s sometimes confused with burlesque, but bawdy comedy and striptease do not play a part in Cabaret 313’s shows.
Cabaret 313 is the vision of Sandi and her co-founder Allen, a longtime fan of cabaret. The two happened to be working on another project together when the idea of Cabaret 313 came up.
“It was something that we had been thinking about for a while,” Sandi said. “And we got together and decided that perhaps there was an opportunity. Detroit is an incredibly rich musical city, with a diverse and deep musical history. Cabaret is not well represented here.”
Their first three shows were held in private homes in Grosse Pointe, Birmingham, and Detroit to build energy around the concept of Cabaret 313. When is was time to move on to professional venues, Sandi and Allen decided that they wanted to host shows in the city.
“The name is reflective of our desire for this to be a Detroit phenomenon,” Sandi added.
Since then, Cabaret 313 has held shows in intimate venues around the city, including the Madison, Jazz Cafe at the Music Hall, and the Marlene Boll theater at the YMCA. The shows have brought headliners like Amanda McBroom, Norm Lewis, and Ute Lemper to Detroit.
Their upcoming show, Eleven O’Clock Numbers is different from Cabaret 313’s previous productions, featuring a trio of singers rather than a solo headliner. The show is based on the type of entertainment that would take place after theaters let out – when patrons would head out to a nightclub and the entertainment would continue.
To be held at the Chrysler Black Box Theater at the Detroit Opera House on May 3, Eleven O’Clock Numbers highlights renowned cabaret artists Elizabeth Stanley, Scott Coulter, and Carole J. Bufford. There’s a performance at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., leaving plenty of time for dinner before or after the show. Advance tickets are available online and range from $50-125. Guests under 30 years can access a special ticket price, just $25.