Backstage With... Cindy Hutchins

How did you come to be involved with the DC Cabaret Network?

Well, a little back story. I became very interested in the Cabaret genre in the 1980s. I love what can be created, both musically and emotionally, by one singer and one pianist who are in tune with each other, with their songs, and with the audience. I attended the first Cabaret Convention, produced by The Mabel Mercer Foundation, in NYC 1989 and was a participant in the 1992 Cabaret Symposium at the Eugene O'Neill Center in Connecticut. I also produced two cabaret series in DC, "Wednesdays at Eight," at the Shoreham Hotel in 1991 and "Torch Songs" at Planet Fred in 1994.

The DC Cabaret Network was started in 1997 by Wendy Lane Bailey and others. I was interested in what they were doing and enjoyed participating in a few of their events, while also working on other performing/producing projects. In 2004, the DCCN decided to expand their board. I wrote to them, explaining why I would like to be involved and, along with two others, was pleased to be invited to join the board. I've enjoyed being a member ever since.

I know - a long time, right? It's funny how quickly one becomes a senior member of a community. A friend of mine prefers to say "seasoned" and, I have to admit that does sound a bit better:)



Your students always have such great repertoire. What is your advice for choosing songs and developing a show order?

Thank you. I guess I'd just suggest trying to listen to songs/singers as much as you can. Listen, not only to styles of music with which you are already familiar, but search out what you don't know. One of the beauties of cabaret is that we may draw on just about any genre for our repertoire. It's important, of course, to select a song that's going to work when pared down to just voice and piano. And, of course, in the world of cabaret, it's very important to select a song with a good lyric - something to which you strongly connect. Hopefully, too, you will, over time, have a sense of what types of songs work for you and which you do well.

In terms of a show order, I think it's wise to work with a director, but I will suggest that you both be ruthless with the show order. A song shouldn't go in a show simply because you like it. No song should be "filler," if you know what I mean. Each individual song needs to matter and needs to be an important part of the complete song list.

Where will we see and hear you and your students next?

Oh, you'll see me at the DCCN open mics, occasionally singing but, more likely, cheering on my students and the other folks that come to sing.

I'm excited that two of my students, Heidi Mayor and Annie Elliott, will be sharing a Maggie's Cabaret show, most likely in May 2016. Their director is the very talented, Steven Cupo. And my next Maggie's Cabaret, at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Dupont Circle, is February 5th featuring members of the GMCW presenting their "The S*Show" (Sinatra, Streisand & Sondheim).