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Cabaret Pittsburgh goes solo

| Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2006

The popular Riverview Series of cabaret performances is going solo as the first offering of the newly formed Cabaret Pittsburgh Inc.

Begun in 2004 under the umbrella of Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre by its then-managing director, Stephanie Riso, Cabaret Pittsburgh promoted local emerging talents through a series of cabaret evenings at La Prima Espresso coffeehouse in the Cultural District. In 2005, Riso added the Riverview Series, which offered four performances by nationally known artists at the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel, also in the Cultural District.

This month, Riso is leaving her job at Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre and taking Cabaret Pittsburgh out on its own as she becomes president of an independent nonprofit organization offering a season of four performances by nationally recognized performers at the Renaissance Pittsburgh.

"I want to start with the series and keep it on its feet," Riso says. "But I also want to educate Pittsburghers about cabaret, (and) offer master classes and artists-in-the-schools programs." Plans include an interest in developing new musicals, offering songwriting workshops and staging concert versions of vintage musicals in the style of the Encore! series popular in New York City.

Cabarets showcasing local talent are on the back burner for the moment says Riso, who prefers not to duplicate a role that she feels Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's Late Night Cabaret fills nicely.

The 2006 Cabaret Pittsburgh season will open May 5 with Mary Cleere Haran, one of Manhattan's most classic and humorous cabaret artists.

Tony DeSare, a jazz-oriented newcomer, will follow on July 14. Singer and songwriter Craig Carnelia, lyricist for the Broadway musicals "Working" and "Sweet Smell of Success," will appear Sept. 8.

The season will close Nov. 10 with Ann Hampton Callaway and her sister Liz Callaway performing their show "Relative Harmony".

The shows, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., be in the second-floor Symphony Room of the Renaissance Pittsburgh, in a 70-seat space that will create an intimate musical experience.

Admission is $45 plus tax and includes hors d'oeuvres and a complimentary glass of wine or other beverage. A $25 student admission also includes hors d'oeuvres and a beverage.

New this year are four-show season subscriptions priced at $160 plus tax for regular seating, and $190 plus tax for premium seating. Premium subscriptions include premium reserved seating, a subscription to the monthly magazine "Cabaret Scenes," and e-mail updates.

Tickets and subscriptions go on sale in February.

Details: 412-394-3353.

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