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Bard’s Beloved Spiegeltent Returns with Cabaret Headlined by Martha Plimpton, Melanie, Chita Rivera, and More, All Hosted by Mx. Justin Vivian Bond; Plus Live Jazz, Dancing, and Dining

Cabaret and more with Mx. Justin Vivian Bond at Bard’s Spiegeltent this summer

Eleanor Davis
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY: The 2018 Bard SummerScape festival opens on Friday, June 29, heralding the return of the authentic Belgian Spiegeltent. A luxurious “tent of mirrors,” this has proved a sensation each summer since 2006, bewitching audiences with its wooden floors, shimmering chandeliers, mirrored walls, stained-glass panels, and red velvet ceiling.Conveniently situated near the striking Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center, the Spiegeltent provides a sumptuous setting for cutting-edge cabaret – headlined this year by artists includingChita RiveraMartha PlimptonMelanieSam Amidon, and Nona Hendryx – and world-class jazz, dining, after-hours dancing, and more throughout the seven-week festival (June 29–August 18). Longtime Spiegeltent favorite and Tony nominee Mx. Justin Vivian Bond – “the greatest cabaret artist of this generation” (New Yorker) – returns as host, MC, performer, and curator for a fifth consecutive season.

On Friday and Saturday nights, Spiegeltent Cabaret offers sophisticated entertainment with an adventurous edge, almost all of which has been quick to sell out in previous summers. Three-time Tony Award-winner Chita Rivera, Emmy Award-winner Martha Plimpton, folk legend Melanie, new wave rock goddess Nona Hendryx, and nightclub star Julian Fleisherare among those making their SummerScape debuts, while favorite returning acts includenightlife icon Susanne Bartsch, comic songwriter Angela Di Carlo, punk princess Christeene,and, of course, the irrepressible Mx. Bond. Friday and Saturday nights continue After Hours, when the finest guest DJs spin the decks for patrons to dance in the company of SummerScape artists, while taking advantage of the after-hours menu and late-night bar.

On Thursday evenings, the Spiegeltent joins forces with the Catskill Jazz Factory and the New York Hot Jazz Festival to present “Jazz Through the Looking Glass: The Hot Jazz Age.” Afive-concert journey that follows the genre from its beginnings in New Orleans through its migration to Chicago, Harlem, and beyond, this series brings leading exponents of the current hot-jazz revival (including Bria Skonberg, Auroa Nealand, Gordon Au, and more) to explore the music that served as a soundtrack to the prohibition era. Finally, Special events, include concerts from the Hudson Valley’s own The Big Takeover, a live performance of the hit podcast WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE, and Bard’s beloved summertime swing, complete with live music and pre-performance dance instruction from the professionals.
Before and after each performance, patrons can enjoy Dining at the Spiegeltent – indoors or outside in the beautiful gardens – with a menu of seasonal fare served at selected lunchtimes and dinnertimes on Thursdays through Sundays (see detailed dining calendar here). A full bar offering complements the dinner menu.
Bard’s glittering “Mirror Tent” comes from Belgium, where such tents and the special entertainment they host have been a beloved tradition for the past century. The Spiegeltent is a marvel of engineering, comprising 3,000 interlocking parts, with a spellbinding interior of carved wood surfaces, parquet floor, beveled mirrors, stained-glass windows, and splendid velvet canopies. Flanked by table and booth seating, the tent’s stage hosts a dazzling selection of entertainers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as some Sundays, all summer long. Before and after any SummerScape performance, the Spiegeltent provides the ideal setting in which to enjoy offerings from the Hudson Valley’s rich array of farms, orchards, and dairies, including produce from Bard’s own farm.
Special support for the Spiegeltent is provided by Carolyn Marks Blackwood & Gregory Quinn, and by Andrew E. Zobler and Manny Urquiza.
Program details for all Spiegeltent offerings follow below.

Spiegeltent Cabaret
• Hosted by Mx. Justin Vivian Bond
• Fridays and Saturdays June 29–August 18
• Except where noted, all performances start at 8:30pm
• Dinner and drinks will be available during the performances
• Except where noted, tickets start at $25

Martha Plimpton: All the Presidents Mann
Friday, June 29 at 7pm & 9:30pm
Emmy Award-winner and three-time Tony nominee Martha Plimpton (The GooniesThe Real O’Neals) dedicates the songs of Aimee Mann to some of her most and least favorite U.S. Presidents. With wit, charm, and vocal prowess, Plimpton navigates a minefield of love, loss, and electoral misjudgment, with music by the Grammy Award-winner named one of the “world’s top ten greatest living songwriters” (NPR).
Susanne Bartsch presents The Bartschland Follies
Saturday, June 30 at 10pm (doors and dancing at 9pm
Nightclub legend Susanne Bartsch – “a pioneer on the New York club, art, and fashion scenes since the ’80s” (Vogue) – returns to the Spiegeltent to celebrate opening weekend with an eclectic and eccentric lineup. The Bartschland Follies combines the glamour of a night at the opera with the risqué magic of burlesque, and includes a live DJ before and after the performances. Featuring Joey Arias, Amanda LePore, Julie Atlas Muz, Dirty Martini, Murray Hill, and more.

Nona Hendryx presents Parallel Lives: Billie Holiday & Edith Piaf
Friday, July 6
The career of Grammy-nominated, art- and funk-rock pioneer Nona Hendryx – a founding member of Labelle, the revolutionary girl-group that gave the world “Lady Marmelade” – spans six decades of sound and style evolution. Joined by an international roster of singers, she honors two women born in the same year on different shores: Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf. Though the singers never met, they shared comparably difficult lives that fed the soulful singularity of their voices and helped define a generation.
Mx. Justin Vivian Bond is Down on Creation: On Top of the World with the Carpenters
Saturday, July 7
Mx. Bond takes the stage with a celebration of American soft-rock poster-girl Karen Carpenter. Offering a revelatory glimpse into the troubled life of the ’70s icon and the music she left behind, Down on Creation has already played to sold-out crowds in San Francisco and New York City, where the New York Times marveled: “Mx. Bond’s sharp wit fuels what may well be the best banter in the business.”
Julian Fleisher: Sun Songs
Saturday, July 13
Bandleader, record producer, singer, actor, and “Manhattan nightclub supernova” (Los Angeles Times) Julian Fleisher is a true renaissance man. Backed by his ten-piece outfit, the Rather Big Band, he makes his Spiegeltent debut with Sun Songs, a program of classics by artists including the Beatles and Joni Mitchell.
Adrienne Truscott’s Asking For It: A One Lady Rape About Comedy
Friday, July 20
 Adrienne Truscott, one-half of the infamous Wau Wau Sisters, dressed only from the waist up and ankles down, undoes and does in the rules and rhetoric about rape, comedy and the awkward laughs in between. Heavy at its core but light on its feet, Truscott’s stand-up routine about a hideous subject has won awards around the world. In the words of THE GUARDIAN, "It's so exhilarating to see the ugliness of rape discourse taken on, and bested, not with humourlessness or censoriousness, but with firecracker wit, sophistication and luminous humanity.” STRICTLY ADULTS ONLY.  CONTAINS NUDITY.
Queer Punk Now: Christeene and THICK
Saturday, July 21
Christeene, the gender-bending feral princess of punk returns to the Spiegeltent for another raw and raucous evening, definitely not for the faint of heart. Joining her direct from Brooklyn is the female-driven “pressing punk” (NEW YORK TIMES) sensation, THICK, fresh from the release of their debut album, WOULD YOU RATHER?.
Friday, July 27
Melanie Safka was one of only three women to perform solo at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Her half-century’s musical journey has ensured her place as one of America’s folk music treasures. Reliving such hits as “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain),” “Brand New Key,” and “Ruby Tuesday,” Melanie brings spirit and spunk to her Spiegeltent debut.
Chita: A Legendary Celebration
July 28 at 7 and 9:30 pm
An incomparable Broadway icon, Chita Rivera graces the Spiegeltent with two very special, intimate performances. Accompanied by her long-time trio, the Tony Award winner will recreate moments from her legendary career including numbers from WEST SIDE STORY, SWEET CHARITY, CHICAGO, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, BYE, BYE, BIRDIE, THE RINK, and THE VISITshowcasing the artistry and history that has made her a star of the Great White Way and beyond.
Mx. Bond’s House of Whimsy
Friday, August 3, and Saturday, August 4

“Transatlantic cabaret messiah” (Time Out London) Mx. Justin Vivian Bond welcomes patrons back to the House of Whimsy: an edgy and irreverent evening of divas and deviants from the downtown performance scene. Spiegeltent favorites mingle with talented newcomers in a program of provocative variety acts. Featuring Big Dipper, Sadonna (Miguel Gutierrez), Star Amerasu, and more.

Sam Amidon
Friday, August 10
American folk music runs through the veins of Sam Amidon, the young composer and singer whose “highly personal approach opens a window on the American past and lets us feel it like nothing else around” (NPR). Following the 2017 release of his sixth album, The Following Mountain, Amidon takes the Spiegeltent stage for the first time with an intimate solo evening of original Americana.

BACK TO (ab)NORMAL: Angela Di Carlo’s Add Cabaret and Billy Hough’s Scream Along with Billy
Saturday, August 11
BACK TO (ab)NORMAL is a double-bill laugh riot, not for the faint of heart. Angela Di Carlo (House of Whimsy 2016 and 2017) returns with a set of songs about her random observations, pet peeves and timely topics, all performed at lightning pace. A cult sensation in the New York and Provincetown underground music scenes, Billy Hough rounds out the evening with a punk-infused set of ranting and songs that the New Yorker found ever “more poignant and more beautiful.”

The Hot Sardines: A Dance Party
Friday, August 17
Bard opens up the Spiegeltent dance floor for the return of hot-jazz darlings, The Hot Sardines, whose brassy, rollicking sound breathes new life into the music of decades past.
Patrons can dance into the season’s closing weekend as the group recreates New York speakeasies, New Orleans jazz halls, and Parisian cabaret.
Boys in the Trees: Justin Vivian Bond sings All the Young Dudes
Saturday, August 18
After years of covering the work of female singer-songwriters, Mx. Bond takes a change of course. To quote the “cabaret savior” (New York Times): “Instead of singing songs by people I wanted to be, I thought it would be hot to sing the songs of the people I wanted to be with.”Drawing the Spiegeltent season to a close, Mx. Bond “trannels” the sounds of teen idols and rock gods.
Spiegeltent Jazz
• Jazz Through the Looking Glass: The Hot Jazz Age
• Presented with Catskill Jazz Factory and the New York Hot Jazz Festival
• Thursdays, July 5–August 2
• Performances start at 8pm
• Tickets start at $25
Sidney Bechet: The Soul of Crescent City
Aurora Nealand & the Royal Roses
Thursday, July 5
Innovative Crescent City songstress Aurora Nealand leads her band, the Royal Roses, in a tribute to the Jazz Age recordings of New Orleans sax legend Sidney Bechet. A prominent presence in the New Orleans jazz scene who was frequently featured in HBO’s Treme, Nealand was named one of Downbeat magazine’s top ten rising stars of soprano sax. 
Get Rhythm in Your Feet: The Music of J. Russel Robinson and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band
Gordon Au’s Grand Street Stompers featuring Molly Ryan
Thursday, July 12
Gordon Au’s Grand Street Stompers celebrate the world’s first commercially released jazz recording in this tribute to the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s J. Russel Robinson. Known for his blues-influenced playing style, Robinson made major contributions to ragtime and jazz. Period vocalist Molly Ryan, “a perennial favorite” (Jazz Times), helps recreate the authentic vintage sound, and the concert opens with a brief introduction and gramophone presentation by Michael Cumella (aka Phonograph DJ MAC), the host of WFMU’s Antique Phonograph Music Program.
Hotter Than That: Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives
The Bria Skonberg Band
Thursday, July 19
Hailed as “the shining hope of hot jazz” (New York Times), Bria Skonberg leads her band in an homage to her idol Louis Armstrong, with a night that recalls the legendary jazz singer and trumpeter’s seminal recording with the Hot Five, his first studio band. Recently signed to Sony records, Skonberg has been recognized with the Jazz At Lincoln Center Swing! Award. As theWall Street Journal put it, “If Louis Armstrong and Doris Day could somehow be the same person, they’d be Bria Skonberg.”

The Unsung Jazz Geniuses of Prohibition
The Ghost Train Orchestra
Thursday, July 26
Trumpeter Brian Carpenter leads the Ghost Train Orchestra – a not-so-big band known for reviving long lost musical gems – in a program of rarities by the lesser-known composers and band leaders of late-prohibition era dance halls, speakeasies, and nightclubs in Harlem and South Side, Chicago. “There hasn’t been big band music as exciting as this since forever,” writes the NYC Jazz Record. “GTO is creating its own electrifying musical gold.”

Bix & Tram: A Red-Hot Perspective
The Patrick Bartley Orchestra
Thursday, August 2
Grammy-nominated saxophonist Patrick Bartley, Jr. has appeared on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and at venues including the Staples Center and Madison Square Garden. He leads his orchestra in a celebration of the recordings of jazz age legends Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer, now recognized as among the most important and influential in jazz history. Recreating their recordings with impeccable period authenticity, the concert affords a rare opportunity to hear this music live, note for note as it was first captured almost a century ago.
Special Events
• Stories, music, swing, and more
• Tickets, dates, and times as shown

The Big Takeover
Saturday, June 23 at 8 pm
Led by Jamaican-born powerhouse singer-songwriter NeeNee Rushie, The Big Takeover has packed out clubs in New York City, upstate, and beyond. Now the six-piece Hudson Valley band brings its distinctively global blend of roots reggae, world music, and soul to the Spiegeltent for the first time.

The Porch
Sunday, June 24 at 6pm
A hit last year, The Porch at the Spiegeltent returns, bringing Hudson Valley storytellers back together for another intimate evening of true stories, each under ten minutes long, all of which must be told without notes.

Summertime Swing
with Eight to the Bar
Sunday, July 8; doors open at 6pm, dance instruction begins at 6:30pm, dancing until 11pm
Spiegeltent staples Linda and Chester Freeman of Got2Lindy Dance Studios return for a night of swing dancing with music from Eight to the Bar. As Sound Waves magazine writes, “I started going to see Eight to the Bar in the 1980s and I’ve consistently been blown away by their vocal harmonies, nonstop energy, and super slick arrangements of swing, jazz, blues, doo wop, and Motown tunes.”
Community Music Space Summer Fest
Sunday, July 29 from 3–6pm
Red Hook’s own Community Music Space takes over the Spiegeltent, showcasing burgeoning young local talent in a family-friendly mini-festival of music and more.

Summertime Swing
with Professor Cunningham and His Old School
Sunday, August 5; doors open at 6pm, dance instruction begins at 6:30pm, dancing until 11pm
Linda and Chester Freeman offer another night of swing dancing, this time accompanied by New Orleans jazz from Professor Cunningham and His Old School, winners of the 2016 International Swing Band Competition.

Brand new live show
Sunday, August 12 at 7pm
The Hudson Valley-based creators and stars of the popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast bring their live show to the Spiegeltent for the first time. A community radio-style update from the deceptively eerie desert town of Night Vale, Welcome to Night Vale has been called “the news from Lake Wobegon as seen through the eyes of Stephen King” (NPR).

After Hours
• Fridays and Saturdays, June 29–August 18
• All performances start at 10:30pm and end at 12:30am
·  June 29 and July 28 from 11pm to 12:30am
·  No After Hours on June 30 or July 14
• Tickets: $12 (or free with ticket to any same-day SummerScape event)
·  Open to patrons age 21+

After Hours offers patrons the chance to dance their weekend nights away to tunes spun by a stellar roster of DJs that includes both returning favorites and fresh faces.
Dining at the Spiegeltent
• Thursdays–Sundays, June 30–August 19 (see detailed dining calendar here)
The Spiegeltent is the SummerScape festival’s oasis, a place to enjoy seasonal, locally inspired food and drink before and after performances, while the lovely outdoor garden provides the perfect spot to relax in the company of friends and festival artists long after the curtain comes down. Dinner reservations are recommended, and will be available from June 30, giving the restaurant’s name as “Fisher Center Spiegeltent.” Click here for menus.
Major support for the Spiegeltent is provided by Carolyn Marks Blackwood & Gregory Quinn, and by Andrew E. Zobler & Manny Urquiza.
SummerScape 2018: key performance dates by genre
Bard Music Festival, Weekend One: Inventing Russian Music: The Mighty Five (Aug 10–12)
Bard Music Festival, Weekend Two: Rimsky-Korsakov and His Followers (Aug 17–19)
Complete program details follow.
Anton Rubinstein’s Demon
Sosnoff Theater
July 27* at 8pm
July 29*; August 1, 3* & 5* at 2 pm
Tickets start at $25
Opening Night Reception for Members Friday, July 27
Opera Talk with Leon Botstein Sunday, July 29 at noon
Pam Tanowitz, Kaija Saariaho, Brice Marden: T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (world premiere of SummerScape commission, featuring Pam Tanowitz Dance, Kathleen Chalfant, and The Knights)
Sosnoff Theater
July 6* & 7 at 8 pm
July 8* at 3 pm
Tickets start at $25
Opening Night Reception for Members Friday, July 6
Post-Performance Conversation Saturday, July 7
Pre-Performance Conversation Sunday, July 8 at 2pm
Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan (new production)
LUMA Theater
June 28; July 5, 6*, 8, 12, 15, 19 & 22 at 7 pm
June 29 & 30; July 7, 13, 14, 20 & 21 at 7:30 pm
July 1, 4, 7, 8*, 11, 14, 15, 18, 21 & 22 at 2 pm
Tickets start at $25
Open to reviewing press beginning July 5
Suitable for audiences aged 12 and up.
Opening Night Reception for Members Friday, July 6
Pre-Performance Conversation Sunday, July 1 at 1pm
Post-Performance Conversation Wednesday, July 11
“Rimsky-Korsakov and the Poetry of Cinema”
Ottaway Film Center
July 26 – Russian Ark (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2002, Russia/Germany/Canada/Finland, 96 minutes)
July 29 – A Night on Bald Mountain (Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker, 1933, France, 8 minutes) and Fantasia(Walt Disney, 1940, USA, 126 minutes)
August 2 – The Devil is a Woman (Josef von Sternberg, 1935, USA, 79 minutes)
August 5  Kismet (Vincente Minnelli, 1955, USA, 113 minutes)
August 9 – Man of Music (Composer Glinka), (Grigori Aleksandrov, 1952, USSR, 100 minutes)
August 12 – The Cranes are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957, USSR, 97 minutes)
August 16 – Atlantic City (Louis Malle, 1980, Canada/France, 104 minutes)
August 19 – The House of Mirth (Terence Davies, 2000, UK/Germany/USA, 140 minutes)
Tickets: $10

All programs are subject to change.
Bard SummerScape ticket information
Tickets for all Bard SummerScape events are on sale. For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or
SummerScape opera, theater, and dance performances and most Bard Music Festival programs are held in the Sosnoff Theater or LUMA Theater in Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and celebrated since its opening as a major architectural landmark in the region. Some chamber programs and other BMF events are in Olin Hall, and the Spiegeltent has its own schedule of events, in addition to serving as a restaurant, café, and bar before and after performances. Film Series screenings are at the Jim Ottaway Jr. Film Center in the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Center.
New York City Round-Trip Coach Transportation:
To make a reservation on the round-trip SummerScape coach provided exclusively to ticket holders for specific performances indicated by * in the listings above, call the box office at 845-758-7900 or select this option when purchasing tickets. The round-trip fare is $40 and reservations are required. The coach departs from behind Lincoln Center, on Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets. Find additional details at:
Full Schedule:
For a complete schedule of SummerScape and Bard Music Festival events (subject to change), follow the links given below. Updates are posted at the festival web site
Fisher Center members receive priority access to the best seats in advance, and those who join the Center’s email list receive advance booking opportunities as well as regular news and updates.
Bard Music
Tickets and Subscriptions:; or by phone at 845-758-7900. Tickets to all mainstage events start at $25.

Special offers:
Create Your Own Series: save 25% and enjoy maximum flexibility, by choosing four or more events.
SummerScape Mainstage Package: save 30% and guarantee seats for dance, theater, and opera events.
Out-of-Town Package: save up to 23% on mainstage ticket, roundtrip bus from New York City, and three-course meal.
Night Out Package: save up to 15% on mainstage ticket (selected performances only) and three-course meal.
Updates: Bard’s “e-subscribers” get all the news in regular updates. Click here to sign up, or send an e-mail to
All programs are subject to change.

The 2018 SummerScape season is made possible in part through the generous support of Jeanne Donovan Fisher, the Martin and Toni Sosnoff Foundation, the Board of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, the Board of the Bard Music Festival, and Fisher Center members, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
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This event was last updated on 06-18-2018