By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – Springfield resident Vickie Phillips has quite a commute for her job – she is a cabaret performer who regularly can be seen in New York City.
Philips’ dedication to her craft though has paid off with an award from this year’s Bistro Awards, which acknowledges excellence in the field.
Phillips told Reminder Publications
she was “surprised, honored and thrilled.” She is being recognized for best “song interpretation.” Her second such award from the organization.
Phillips said that some people mistake cabaret with musical theater, but there is a real difference.
“Cabaret is an intimate relationship through music with an audience,” she explained. “It’s a very, very specific personal entertainment.”
The form developed in Germany in the 1920s and came to America, she said. Although it continues in New York City, Phillips said, it is about the location for cabaret in the Northeast.
A singer, actress and teacher, Phillips noted that cabaret performers also used to find work singing in lounges, but few now offer live music.
Seeing the Broadway play “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well in Paris” was a revelation for Phillips.
“That show changed my life,” she said.
Describing it as close as cabaret comes to Broadway, Phillips was inspired to work in cabarets. She started in 1968 and now performs at Don’t Tell Mama.
“It’s been my second home for the last 15 to 20 years,” she said.
Phillips has lauded for her performances. Peter Leavey wrote last year on the website CabaretScenes (www.cabaretscenes.org
), “There’s something about old-timers that makes them special. They know how to deliver a song, they know how to relate to their audience, and they know how to put a show together. Yes, that describes Vickie Phillips and her ‘Songs for a Summer Night.’ Yet, terming it her ‘show’ doesn’t convey it properly. It was as much a soiree with a roomful of invited guests as anything Vickie Phillips would have had in a spacious Park Avenue residence.”
Phillips will be celebrating her birthday with a performance at the Metropolitan Room jazz cabaret (http://metropolitanroom.com
) in New York on April 24.
She will be receiving her award at the 29th Annual Bistro Awards gala on March 4 at the Gotham Comedy Club. The awards show will be honoring performer Ben Vereen and Phillips expressed excitement sharing the stage with him.
She said she saw him in the original Broadway production of “Pippin” and has been “been enamored with his work ever since.”
Even though the art form may not be as widespread as she would like it to be, Phillips said, “Cabaret is alive, well and surviving.”