By Cary Ginell
With “Cabaret” playing at the Camarillo Skyway Playhouse for the next few weeks, the idea of cabarets, or solo showcases, came to mind. These shows are a great way to promote yourself without having to wait for that key audition. This is where Joshua Finkel comes in. Finkel has come up with a unique idea: conducting classes on how to create and program your own cabaret act. Finkel, who owns and operates the Creative Combustion Acting Studio in Studio City, is an actor, director and acting coach. This past spring, he directed Panic! Productions’ “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Beginning on Sunday, July 28, he will be teaching a week-long class called “Cabaret Slam,” which is part of the ANMT Musical Theater Summer Boot Camp. The class, which takes place in the San Fernando Valley teaches students how to create their own cabaret acts. Finkel is looking to start a similar class in the Conejo Valley.
“In my last class,” Finkel said, “I had a wonderfully talented performer who had been out of the loop for a while raising a family. She went through a huge journey in class and progressed from feeling like she was not up to the challenge to shining through with fantastic numbers and patter. In the middle of the class, it clicked and she decided to allow herself to do the work and acknowledge that she WAS good enough.”
One of the artists who has benefited from Finkel’s class is Mona King, who has been seen on Ventura County stages in the Conejo and Simi Valleys. With Finkel’s help, Mona created a one-woman version of Maury Yeston’s “December Songs,” transforming it from a song cycle to a one-woman show. She has since released a recording of “December Songs” and took her cabaret act to New York City and Palm Springs, where she received rave reviews.
One of Finkel’s class’s benefits is that actors have become more comfortable onstage for other projects, including auditions. “They now feel fearless and able to really share themselves and have a great time,” Finkel said. “I think my class gets them used to really talking with the room, rather than feeling awkward and like you were and auditioning in front of a firing squad.” The classes can not only help performers in a stage presentation, but in real life as well. Finkel said that one of his graduates was up for a promotion in his workplace and sailed through the interview because of the self-confidence he had developed in Finkel’s class. The result was the desired promotion.
In addition, having a cabaret act in your hip pocket also helps during those slow periods of one’s career. With the cabaret act, Finkel says, “You will always find a way to create your own work, rather than waiting for “permission to work” from an audition panel. You can actually make a good living this way, depending upon your vision and your act. Plus, you’ll have new and original tunes for auditions, open mic material, and you’ll have the skill to keep feeling creative if you are ever feeling stuck.
Claudia Murphy, who took Finkel’s class, said, “I’ll never forget what my cabaret class experience did for me. It took me to a level I never imagined for myself. I can’t wait to take another class when my schedule opens up a bit more.”
If anyone is interested in Joshua Finkel’s cabaret class, tentatively titled “Conejo Cabaret Soiree,” write to [email protected] and we will forward your contact information to Joshua.