Category: Category 1

Cabaret Scenes

Simply ShowbizTanya Moberly sings “Barbra Joan Streisand” album, live in new cabaret show
FEATURE INTERVIEW by Mark Dundas WoodAs a four-year-old, Tanya Moberly discovered the family record player—and decided she wanted to be a singer. From the beginning she was exposed to a variety of musical genres. Her father loved jazz, and her mother enjoyed classical music. But there were also a lot of pop and “standard” recordings around the house: music by Andy Williams, Perry Como, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé. Moberly especially gravitated toward the first Barbra Streisand album, from 1963. “There was something about her that made me say, ‘That’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.’”A few years later, when Moberly was 12, she became obsessed with the 1971 album Barbra Joan Streisand. “I would wait till everyone was out of the house, and I would lock the door and sing it over and over to my dog. He was an unbelievable audience—he had these big brown eyes. I don’t know what to say. It was just something about these particular tunes. They’re joyous and celebratory, but there’s also a lot of sadness and loss in them.”

Moberly did, in fact, go on to become a professional singer (and actor). She has performed a cabaret show at Manhattan’s Don’t Tell Mama annually for the last 14 years (the first five of which she was teamed with performer Susan Hackett in a recurring show called The Blonde Leading the Blonde). In recent years she has produced the award-winning open-mic night Salon, which is hosted by Mark Janas and takes place at Etcetera, Etcetera, a club in the same block in 
midtown Manhattan as Don’t Tell Mama.

Now Moberly is revisiting her 12-year-old self’s obsession. Beginning tomorrow (9/28/12) she will perform at Don’t Tell Mama in a show called Tanya Lorraine Moberly Sings Barbra Joan Streisand. She will deliver all the songs from the 1971 collection—in the same order they appear on Streisand’s album.

I think that of all the [Streisand] albums, this one has the best journey, the clearest arc…” she says. “I like that about all of her records—that they seem to go from point A to point B and they seem to have a climax and a build. And for some reason [the order in] this one seems to make just a tremendous amount of sense to me.”

The show features songs from an array of songwriters: Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Michel Legrand, Marilyn and Alan Bergman, Laura Nyro, John Lennon, and Carole King, among others. “[Streisand] had the balls to rip off material that was brand-new,” notes Moberly. “Three songs on this 1971 album are from the 1971 [Carole King] album Tapestry. And, the thing is, I heard them first through Streisand. But I have a true love of Carole King and that Tapestry album now.” (The King songs are “Beautiful,” “Where You Lead” (co-written by Toni Stern) and “You’ve Got a Friend.”)

One of Moberly’s favorite numbers in the show is Donald Fagen and Walter Becker’s “I Mean to Shine,” which was a kind of anthem for her during her younger years – during which she faced some challenges, including the death of her father. She also especially enjoys singing “Beautiful,” the show’s opening number. “I love being positive. There’s something about getting up every morning and—despite what you’ve been through or what you’ve survived—trying to spread some love, to be joyous.”

The largely upbeat material in the show is something of a departure for Moberly: “It’s kind of crowd-pleasing. But also there’s no bad language. It’s not inappropriate for children. It’s not as dark as some of my shows have been. My Ani DiFranco show was pretty dark.”

Moberly is supported onstage by pianist Steven Ray Watkins. She was warned before she approached him that he was “a Babs hater.” “I said, ‘That’s perfect, because it’s not about her, it’s about the songs.” Watkins, also a vocalist, duets with Moberly on the Bacharach/David medley “One Less Bell to Answer”/ “A House Is Not a Home.” (No word on whether he also voices the forlorn seagull squawks at the end of the Legrand/Bergman song “The Summer Knows.”)

Already, Moberly is thinking about her 2013 show. She is planning a program of songs by contemporary New York City songwriters – people like Dan Furman, Richie Eisenberg, Nicholas Levin, and Bill Zeffiro. Some of this new work she has come to know from The Salon. “There’s a lot of material I hear, and think, ‘Oh, that would be really fun to try on.’”

Meanwhile she’ll have three more performances of the Streisand show (October 18, November 14, and December 4). “Hopefully, I’ve made [the songs] my own,” she says. “Because that’s what I love about cabaret: being a sculptor, being an interpreter of other people’s music.

“The challenge is that I cry through the whole show. [The songs] are very personal. And that’s a good thing…. All of [Streisand’s] songs seem to be about being completely in love or ‘get away from me – I need to be free.’ And that’s very much my personality, so I relate to that a lot.”

To make reservations for Tanya Lorraine Moberly Sings Barbra Joan Streisand at Don’t Tell Mama, call 212-757-0788 after 4 p.m. or visit