There’s a new cabaret artist in town, and she performed her first show at Don’t Tell Mama in sparse houses, but it’s not because she’s not good – it’s because is new and unknown. Well, that’s about to change.
As the first cabaret shows progress, DOES ANYBODY HAVE A CARD? is a fine first outing, and as newcomers to the small venue storytelling circuit, Shannon Daley is a delightful new addition to the industry. A former musical theater actress, Daley put her dreams of performing on the back burner to raise a family. Now an empty nest with three kids in college, Shannon decided to pick up and dust off those dreams and was waist deep in the design of her New York club debut when the pandemic hit and her plans took a turn for the worse. been thwarted. And her children have moved away. So it was more like three steps forward and two steps back.
And this is the story of Does anyone have a card? And it’s a good one.
Working closely with director Lennie Watts and musical director Steven Ray Watkins, Ms. Daley crafted a charming show that acts as a personal story rather than just a setlist, making it approachable. If she had chosen to sing only songs she liked, there would be no hook to attract strangers – and in cabaret you want your audience to be strangers, people who have seen your postcard and have had to look at you (and Daley has a good postcard that might get people looking at it). As a newcomer to the scene, it’s important for Shannon to announce herself, and Anyone got a card? does just that, in an empathetic and enjoyable way that opens up Daley’s journey without getting too personal or grumpy, all very well structured, thanks to the vast combined experience of its guides, Watkins and Watts.
There is also the issue of talent to consider when launching a new cabaret show. This is often the time when someone gets restless in life and decides the best course of action for them is to become a live performer, without checking that they have the means to support it. Surprise and audible sigh of relief: Shannon Daley has what it takes to prove it. She may have taken a few decades from her musical storytelling, but it doesn’t show. The lady has good vocal training, a certain range and a lucky ability to vary the styles in which she performs. Working to Broadway show tunes of Sunset Boulevard and Dear Evan Hansen, Daley displays a strong musical theater voice, but when the time is right, Shannon, just as easily, takes on Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Dolly Parton and Steven Tyler. (yes, Steven Tyler). Her vocal skills are entirely cabaret-worthy and any rust she might show from only using her mommy voice for two decades will wear off, as Shannon gets her “cabaret legs”.
And when it comes to cabaret legs, Shannon Daley is a pretty good musical storyteller – she’s present, in the moment, willing and able to engage with the story, indeed, more than willing and able, she is ready and she is determined. Cabaret storytelling is different from musical theater storytelling, and Shannon got off to a promising start. Working with Watts and Watkins, continuing to do shows and growing into this brand of storytelling will only make the Daley brand better. If this reporter were to offer a note to Mrs. Daley, it would be to tell the story to the people seated. At this point, Shannon seems to find solace and security in a spot in the back right corner of the room, and understandably so. Many people standing in this light, with this microphone in front of them, will tend to focus on the horizon line, amber freezes or darkness. But the most beneficial part of cabaret storytelling is intimacy, and connecting with the audience is the most valuable tool in telling the story. Work the humorous side of life through brilliant parodies of self-written songs or the tender aspect of his story with an impressive “Everything Must Change” and an inspiring mashup of “Before The Parade Passes By” and “You’re Gonna Hear From Me,” Daley easily drew audible responses from audience members on Saturday’s show, and the only thing that will happen by playing straight to the people sitting down is that the stories will become more resonant and the responses more powerful. .
A particular highlight of Saturday’s program were the two duets Shanon Daley performed with her son, singer-actor Rafi Martinez, a most engaging man with a powerful charm, whose way he looks at his mother when she’s not Do not look . Everyone loves a good mother-son duo, but when applied to the story of this empty nest rediscovering itself, there’s a doubling of emotional energy, especially considering that Martinez is at an age when he, too, is probably living in a chamber of self-discovery. The two singing members of the Daley/Martinez family are doing just fine, indeed, and their time together during Anybody Have A Map? would affect anyone with a special relationship to a parent.
It’s just the beginning for Shannon Daley, and she’s lucky to have such a strong creative team working with her (including drummer Don Kelly, whose presence on any show makes the night better. ) because, even if her nest is empty, she is not going to be alone. Shannon has entered a community of artists and audiences that will demand and demand her society, her company, her artistry. As this streak of shows draws to a close, it would be wise for her to start seeing other acts, meeting other artists, and hitting the open mics. There is work to be done, and this momentum must not stop because she has the goods, and she is off to a good start.
Shannon Daley, welcome to the cabaret.
Follow Shannon Daley on Facebook HERE.
Find great shows to watch on the Don’t Tell Mama website HERE.
On the June 18 performance, bassist Marco Panascia filled in at the last minute without rehearsal and was fantastic.
Photos by Stephen Mosher