Definitions

cabaret

cabaret

[kab-uh-rey for 1–4, 6, 7; kab-uh-ret for 5]

Restaurant that serves liquor and offers light musical entertainment. The cabaret probably originated in France in the 1880s as a small club that presented amateur acts and satiric skits lampooning bourgeois conventions. The first German Kabarett was opened in Berlin circa 1900 by Baron Ernst von Wolzogen and accompanied its musical acts with biting political satire. By the 1920s it had become the centre for underground political and literary expression and a showcase for the works of social critics such as Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill; this decadent but fertile artistic milieu was later portrayed in the musical Cabaret (1966; film, 1972). The English cabaret derived from concerts given in city taverns in the 18th–19th centuries and evolved into the music hall. In the U.S. the cabaret developed into the nightclub, where comedians, singers, or musicians performed. Small jazz and folk clubs and, later, comedy clubs evolved from the original cabaret.

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Cabaret is a form of entertainment featuring comedy, song, dance, and theatre, distinguished mainly by the performance venue — a restaurant or nightclub with a stage for performances and the audience sitting at tables (often dining or drinking) watching the performance being introduced by a master of ceremonies, or MC.

Cabaret also refers to a Mediterranean-style brothel — a bar with tables and women who mingle with and entertain the clientele. Traditionally these establishments can also feature some form of stage entertainment: often singers & dancers.

French cabaret

The first cabaret was opened in 1881 in Montmartre, Paris: Rodolphe Salís' "cabaret artistique." Shortly after it was founded, it was renamed Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat). It became a locale in which up-and-coming cabaret artists could try their new acts.

The Moulin Rouge, built in 1889 in the red-light district of Pigalle near Montmartre, is famous for the large red imitation windmill on its roof.

The Folies-Bergère continued to attract a large number of people even though it was more expensive than other cabarets. People felt comfortable at the cabaret: They did not have to take off their hat, could talk, eat, and smoke when they wanted to, etc. They did not have to stick to the usual rules of society.

At the Folies-Bergère, as in many cafés-concerts, there were a variety of acts: singers, dancers, jugglers, and clowns.

Le Lido, on the Champs-Elysées has been a venue of the finest shows with the most famous names since 1946 including Laurel & Hardy, Shirley MacLaine, Elton John, Marlene Dietrich, and Noel Coward among them.

American Cabaret

In the United States, cabaret diverged into several different styles of performance mostly due to the influence of Jazz Music. Chicago cabaret focused intensely on the larger band ensembles and reached its peak in the speakeasies, and steakhouses (like The Palm) of the Prohibition Era.

New York cabaret never developed to feature a great deal of social commentary. When New York cabarets featured jazz, they tended to focus on famous vocalists like Eartha Kitt and Hildegarde rather than instrumental musicians.

Cabaret in the United States began to disappear in the sixties, due to the rising popularity of rock concert shows and television variety shows. The art form still survives in two popular entertainment formats: Stand-up comedy and in the drag show performances.

Cabaret is currently undergoing a renaissance of sorts in the United States, particularly in New Orleans and Portland, as new generations of performers reinterpret the old forms in both music and theatre.

In early 2005 a group of New York City-based musicians and performers, launched a series of cabaret performances under the name The Citizens Band. Performing in Manhattan and in Los Angeles, they describe themselves as "a sexy, raucous collaborative cabaret troupe." The Citizens Band received media coverage from the likes of The New Yorker and The New York Times as well as many fashion magazines who trumpeted the return of "cabaret cool" in lush photo spreads.

In 2000, the cabaret variety show, [Le Scandal Cabaret] opened at the Cutting Room. The show mixes burlesque, live music, circus acts, and cabaret singers. New York Magazine called Le Scandal, "the rock star of the NY burlesque scene."

Famous cabarets

See also

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