Denise Lee

Dallas Cabaret Festival Announced

Denise Lee's first Dallas Cabaret Festival, July 28-30 in Fair Park, will be headlined by Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch; plus Julie Johnson, Linda Petty, Marisa Diotalevi and more.

published Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Photo: Mark Oristano
Denise Lee



Denise Lee has announced the lineup for the First Dallas Cabaret Festival, happening July 28-30 at the Women's Building in Fair Park. The Thursday headliner is former Dallas performer and longtime New York cabaret staple Jim Caruso, who'll bring his Cast Party—a weekly must-see in New York at Birdlandwith accompanist Billy Stritch on Thursday, July 28. On Friday, July 29, there will be cabarets by Linda Petty, Julie Johnson and Marisa Diotalevi. The event closes on July 30 with Denise Lee and Gary Floyd in a tribute to the late Dallas cabaret mainstay Buddy Shanahan.


Here's the complete news release from the First Dallas Cabaret Festival:

Denise Lee Onstage and Fair Park Dallas have set the stage for the first-ever Dallas Cabaret Festival, July 28-30, 2016. The Festival, part of the current “Life Is a Cabaret” series will showcase a diverse and talented group of artists, and will take place at the Women’s Museum building at Fair Park. In addition to featuring local Dallas artists, the Festival will kick-off with former Dallasite Jim Caruso performing his Cast Party cabaret with pianist Billy Stritch. This famous cabaret performance will leave Manhattan for Dallas and feature a host of artists who will join Jim and Billy on stage. In an effort to support & give back to the community, each night will benefit one of three different organizations: St. Philip’s School and Community Center, Genesis Women's Shelter & the Resource Center of Dallas.

Photo: Courtesy of Jim Caruso
Billy Stritch and Jim Caruso

“Never before,  and probably never again, will this caliber of talent be in one place, for one weekend, and free to the public!” noted founder Denise Lee. “The entire series has simply been amazing with great crowds and some the best Cabaret talent in Dallas. The Festival will be the highlight of the series and serve as the foundation for future festivals with Fair Park Dallas. This  goes  a long way to further showcase this style of musical entertainment and the incredible talent Dallas has to offer.”

The Festival features the following line-up:

  • July 28, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. –Jim Caruso’s Cast Party featuring Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch on piano
  • July 29 2016 at 7:00 p.m. – Linda Petty - Willie or Willie Not
  • July 29, 2016 at 8:30 p.m. - Julie Johnson - Not Just Country
  • July 29, 2016 at 10:00 p.m. – Marisa Diotalevi - Age of Hilarious
  • July 30, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. – All Star Tribute to Buddy Shanahan and the Hideaway Hosted by Denise Lee & Gary Floyd

All performances of the Cabaret Festival will take place at the Women’s Museum at Fair Park. Admission to the festival and parking is free.  Because we are expecting large crowds, reservations are STRONGLY encouraged to guarantee a seat. You can make a reservation on Eventbrite under Dallas Cabaret Festival.  The site will be available for reservations beginning July 5.

Festival organizers are also looking for patrons and businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities. Sponsorship levels include Enthusiast Sponsor ($250), Media Sponsor ($500), Patron Sponsor ($500), VIP Patron Sponsor ($1000) and Presenting Sponsor ($2000). All sponsors receive preferred, reserved seating at the festival, as well as a number of sponsorship perks depending on the level of donation. For more information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Heather Ezell at



Denise Lee is an award-winning actress, singer based in Dallas but the world is her home. Her powerful voice, warm, friendly demeanor, and her sassy and sensual performance style has charmed theater, nightclub and television audiences for more than three decades. She has an impressively diverse local following at R&B and jazz venues and at area theaters, such as the Dallas Theater Center, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Bass Hall, Dallas City Performance Hall, WaterTower Theatre, Casa Mañana and Theatre Three. Her musical magic has delighted international crowds at clubs in Shanghai, Beijing, Switzerland and France.

When left to her own devices, Lee performs cabaret style, combining all of her favorite things—singing, acting and bantering with her fans and smitten devotees. 'Denise Lee Onstage', in partnership with Fair Park Dallas, produces a Cabaret Series at the Women's Building in Fair Park on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month. The Series features Texas based and Nationally known artists. Lee was named Sammons Center for the Arts 'Cabaret Artist of the Year' and Dallas Voice Reader's Voice Awards 'Best Actress'.  Her cabaret show 'Too Old, Too Fat, Too Black-Songs I'll Never Sing on Broadway', brought a record number of over 500 attendees to the Women's Building and won her a 2015 Broadway World Award for Best Cabaret Performer. 

Lee’s other musical and theater performances include The World Premier of 'The Empress & The Pearl' by diannetucker at Theatre 3, The World Premiere of 'Stagger Lee' at the Dallas Theater Center, ‘The Sunshine Boys’ – with Dick & Jerry Van Dyke; ‘Crowns’ – Directed by playwrite Regina Taylor, ‘The Wiz’, ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill’, ‘Doubt’, ‘Avenue Q’ and ‘Intimate Apparel’.



“Jim Caruso’s Cast Party,” Manhattan’s “extreme” open mic night, will return to Dallas for one night only on July 28th, at 7:00 p.m. at the Women's Building in Fair Park to kick off the Dallas Cabaret Festival!  Musical director for the event will be Billy Stritch.

“Jim Caruso’s Cast Party” is a wildly popular weekly open mic night that has been bringing a sprinkling of Broadway glitz and urbane wit to the legendary Birdland in New York City every Monday night for the past eleven years.  It’s a cool cabaret night-out enlivened by a hilariously impromptu variety show.  Showbiz superstars hit the stage alongside up-and-comers, serving up jaw-dropping music and general razzle-dazzle.  Cast Party is the ultimate spot to mix and mingle with talented show folk and their fans.  The buoyant, sharp and charming Caruso guides the entire affair like a bubbly cruise director, musical genius Billy Stritch holds court at the ivories, and the audience is invited to participate in the festivities! Recently, Caruso and Stritch have taken the Party on the road, celebrating talent in London, San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Austin, and on the high seas. Cast Party was also part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Songbook Series, celebrating the Golden Age of Hollywood with an all-star cast.

*Singers wishing to participate with an impromptu performance should bring sheet music for an upbeat tune in the correct key.



Jim Caruso made his Broadway debut alongside Liza Minnelli in the Tony Award-winning Liza’s At The Palace!, singing, dancing and celebrating the music and arrangements of Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers. He has won six MAC Awards, two Nightflife and two BroadwayWorld Awards for his nightclub appearances, performed with the New York Pops in a tribute to Kander & Ebb, with Rosemary Clooney celebrating Bing Crosby, and sang songs of Hope & Crosby with Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall. Jim was honored to sing with Barbara Cook at President Clinton’s First State Dinner at the White House. His two cd’s, “The Swing Set” and "Caruso Live and In Person" are available online.  For thirteen years, he has hosted the weekly showbiz bash "Jim Caruso’s Cast Party” at Birdland, Lincoln Center, Town Hall, and across the country. He performs regularly with Billy Stritch at Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle Hotel.

Billy Stritch is one of the premier singer-pianists on the New York and national jazz and cabaret scene. Stritch has appeared in cabaret venues across the nation as well as concert performances at the London Palladium, NHK Hall in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro’s Municipale Auditorium.  In New York, he has performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and completed 688 performances as Oscar the rehearsal pianist in the 2001 Broadway revival of 42nd Street. Billy is also a songwriter and arranger, and his composition “Does He Love You” was recorded by Reba McEntire and Linda Davis.  The single reached the number one spot on the Billboard Country chart, winning a Grammy Award and selling over five million copies along the way. Billy has arranged for many top performers including Marilyn Maye, Christine Ebersole, and is a frequent collaborator with Liza Minnelli, having written the arrangements for Minnelli On Minnelli at the Palace Theater, Liza’s Christmas at Town Hall, and was musical supervisor and pianist for the Tony Award-winning, Liza’s At The Palace. He has three solo CDs to his credit, available online.  He is the winner of the Nashville Music City News Award, a BMI Song of the Year Award, and four awards from the Manhattan Association of Clubs and Cabarets.


"Jim Caruso's Cast Party" with Musical Director Billy Stritch

DATE:  July 28, 2016

TIME:   7:30 pm

VENUE Women's Building at Fair Park Thanks For Reading

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Dallas Cabaret Festival Announced
Denise Lee's first Dallas Cabaret Festival, July 28-30 in Fair Park, will be headlined by Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch; plus Julie Johnson, Linda Petty, Marisa Diotalevi and more.
by Mark Lowry

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