After a summer hiatus Torch, located in Wilton Manors, on North Dixie Highway, and Debi Benson, are back in business! The cabaret’s springtime launch was so successful Debi and club owner Ted Goldstein promise new “tricks” for their audience.
One change is that on Friday nights Debi has elected to pass the torch to local singer Don Stansfield, who has been training as a vocalist since he was 15 years old.
“I trained at New York University, and privately with Kurt Peterson in Manhattan,” says Stansfield, “as well as other private, Broadway caliber teachers.”
In addition to being a successful singer he has worked as a high school drama teacher, and works with the Sol Children’s Theater Troupe, based in Fort Lauderdale. Stanfield also teaches singing to children, ages 4 through 18 and adults as well.
He has also lent his time to the gay community.
“At the high school where I taught drama I started the school’s first Gay Straight Alliance, or GSA. I worked with ArtServe and brought together about a dozen local GSAs. I found helping young LGBT students to be a very rewarding experience,” Stanfield told SFGN.
Recently, I went to a rehearsal for the upcoming Friday, September 3, 9:00 p.m. premiere performance. Don and pianist Loree Fox Colvert seemed nonplussed by my solitary presence.
His rendition of “I Get A Kick Out of You,” by gay icon Cole Porter was a magical, riveting performance. Like Debi his range is broad, and his Broadway training and panache come across without disrupting the intent of the song.
“I Won’t Send Roses,” from Mack & Mabel is about a man who flatly tells his love interest that he won’t remember birthdays, and other sentiments, but insists his love will conquer all. If you have ever been “the sung to” – in such a relationship – your ire might rise a bit, your fists may clench, but don’t worry, it’s not your ex.
In addition to these classic, musical, cabaret-perfect numbers Stansfield is going to mix it up.
“Let’s give him ‘New York State of Mind,’ it’s a little bit more rock and roll,” said pianist Calvert. “We just live Billy Joel,” she added.
He gave a soulful rendition of the song, that did not loose its rock flavor, with the addition of a cabaret feel. We are very excited to see the full act on Friday night.
Debi Benson, whose smile is as broad as ol’Broadway, is thrilled to have reopened the club after her vacation. The audience is also ecstatic at her return, and she will be belting out tunes on Saturday and Sunday.
Although, if audience members clamor for a duet who knows? They might just have to oblige their fans at some point.
“The audience was great, and very receptive, when we reopened, they uplifted me as much as I hope I uplifted them,” gushed Benson. “We’ve made so many amazing friendships with the audience, I missed them! It felt like a ‘coming out’ party of sorts. I felt like I was in a closet, without having an audience to sing for!”
She is also coming out of her closet with new songs that she hopes to make as sought after as her the repertoire she initiated last spring.
“We added a ton of songs in rehearsals this summer! We debated about ‘Send in the Clowns,’” said Benson with a laugh of the classic Sondheim song, closely associated with Judy Collins.
Benson also chose the soul-searching number from “The Whiz,” “Home.” Other songs promise to be really fun – fun as in slightly campy. Trust me, guests at Torch are never at a loss for fun.
I would tell you more but, you’ll just have to make a reservation at Torch to check it out.
We can reveal that if you want to book an event, or holiday party, you should probably call and make arrangements soon – chanteuse included of course. The a gratis nibbles have also expanded as has the bar. This season, in addition to wine and beer, they are serving excellent martinis.
So, if you want to go to a place “where the gin is cold, but the piano’s hot” call Torch to make a highly encouraged reservation.
For more information, please visit TheTorchclub.com
Don Stansfield’s premiere, 9 p.m., Friday, September 3
Debi Benson’s evenings are Saturday & Sunday, 8:30, 10:00, and 11:00 p.m