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Bay Street Theatre’s Cabaret @ The Bay Is The Perfect Culmination For Any Saturday

Originally Posted: February 16, 2009

Colin M. Graham

Debra Barsha played piano and sang all night as Bay Street's Artistic Director, Murphy Davis, introduced the first Cabaret @ The Bay. Photos by Colin M. Graham


Sag Harbor - Here on the East End, there aren't many places these days where you and some friends can go to enjoy an hour or two of some quality live entertainment in the kind of cozy and intimate space reminiscent of the piano bars that dotted metropolitan areas during the mid to early part of the 20th century. Luckily, this past Valentine's Day, Bay Street Theatre hosted the first night of Cabaret @ The Bay, a regular Saturday night series starting at 10 p.m.

This inaugural show welcomed an unexpected number of people, catering to a standing room only crowd with roughly 74 people in attendance. The evening, which followed the theater's 8 p.m. Picture Show series, featured the talented pianist, singer, and Bay Street veteran Debra Barsha, and was a tremendous success solidifying it as the first of many such performances at the theater.

Couples canoodled near the Bay Bar.

This new series, which is held in the lobby, or Bay Bar, of the theatre, is actually a continuation of similar cabaret shows Bay Street has put on in the past and an extension of the theater's new mission of putting on entertaining performances for the community during the winter months, which have in the past been relatively quiet leading up to their busy summer season.

"Now that we're open in the winter months we really wanted to offer something up that people could do that's not a big deal and that's not too expensive," explained the General Manager of the theater Tracy Mitchell. "We wanted to provide an option for folks to gather for something really simple and easy that's not just hanging out at a bar or going to a movie."

Those that have been paying attention to the goings on at Bay Street will have noticed that the theatre has been making much more of a concerted effort to making events at the theatre more pertinent to the needs and wants of the community, having recently hosted showings of election coverage including one of the Presidential debates and the inauguration, as well as a planned large screen showing of the Academy Awards coming up later this month.

Mitchell explained that part of the impetus for the reintroduction of the cabaret series was integral to their drive to utilize their wonderful space throughout the year in a way that is meaningful to the year-round residents of Sag Harbor and the neighboring communities.

"There are a lot of people out here all winter long and it seemed that those of us who are here were constantly saying 'well we have a place to go for dinner but other than that there is really nothing to do afterwards other than going to a movie.' We asked ourselves 'what can we do in the winter months that doesn't have to be a big deal, where you can decide at the last minute to pop in and hear some music?'"

Perhaps what helped make the evening so special, other than the performer and the fact that it was towards the end of the evening on Valentine's Day, was that the show was held in the lobby or "Bay Bar" of the theatre, into which had been placed a number of decorative dark wood chairs and tables, each illuminated with candles, arranged around a baby grand piano giving the relatively informal space a true informal piano bar meets intimate coffeehouse feel.

The overall tone of the roughly hour long set was one of impromptu and lighthearted
fun, brought about by Barsha's invitation for some audience participation.

While the intimate and romantically lit space was well suited to the nature of the night, so too were Barsha's songs, which included one she penned to her wife, helping to enhance the couple's ambiance that dominated the evening.

But the performance wasn't all about saccharine expressions of love and desire; next Barsha broke into a rendition of "Love Will Keep Us Together," which served to pep up the mood in the room and even inspired members of the audience to sing along.

While there was a very romantic vibe running through the room with couples stealing the occasional kiss during songs, the overall tone of the roughly hour long set was one of impromptu and lighthearted fun, brought about by Barsha's invitation for some audience participation, culminating when one of the Artistic Directors at Bay Street, Murphy Davis, was enticed to take the mike and perform an inspiring rendition of "Never Never Land," complete with plenty of tongue-in-cheek ad libs that really drew everyone in the room into the moment.

Barsha rounded out her set with an old Beatles classic "With A Little Help From My Friends" capped off by Carol King's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow." The first performance of Cabaret @ The Bay was a total success and if this show is any indication of the ones to come, then reservations will almost certainly be necessary.

For anyone looking to do something a little different and a lot of fun for an hour on a Saturday night, other than hopping around area watering holes, Cabaret @ The Bay is a perfect way to spend that awkward hour that exists after dinner is finished but before either of you are ready to call it an evening during these seemingly quiet winter months. With shows booked all the way until spring, you would be crazy not to swing by for a unique way to have some legitimate, unpretentious fun right at the crux of Bay Street and the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor.

With shows booked all the way until spring, you would be crazy not to swing by for a unique way to have some legitimate, unpretentious fun right at the crux of Bay Street and the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor.


 • For Information on upcoming Cabaret @ The Bay events, go to www.baystreet.org or call the box office at 631-725-9500.


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