James Darrah directs “Cabaret 1979” at Hahn Hall July 27 & 29 | Credit: Courtesy

Hahn Hall will be transformed into an alternative cabaret mode once again on Thursday, July 27, and Sunday, July 29, with the arrival of the James Darrah–directed Cabaret: 1979.

Last summer’s edition of the Music Academy season, looking inward in its 75th anniversary festival, lightened the serious music mode with a little retro cabaret action in Hahn Hall. The occasion was the popular evening of song and shtick organized by noted stage/opera director and Academy faculty member Darrah, and was cheekily dubbed Hahn Hall 1922-2022, in reference to the song list’s earliest reference and an in-house nod to the Academy’s principal venue.

A unique vocal journey cabaret set circa 1979, Laurel Canyon comes to town via James Darrah | Credit: Courtesy

This time out, the historic reference point is the end of the epochal ’70s and the cultural topography of Los Angeles’ legendary Laurel Canyon. That hotbed for singer-songwriters — Joni Mitchell, and Santa Barbara–bound artists David Crosby and Jackson Browne among them — has been a point of obsession for baby boomers and everyday rock historians, funneled recently through documentaries and other forums.

Enter the Music Academy’s smartly voiced tribute energies on the subject. Don’t expect much Cole Porter in the mix.

As Darrah said of his summering educational home base, “All of the musical and atmospheric elements involved here make for a perfect summer of exploration, musical invention, and performance.” 

Darrah’s recent spate of notable moves in an upwardly mobile operatic career included his taking the reins as head of the Long Beach Opera, a respected source of innovation and chance-taking in the opera world. Next week, he takes a break from headier matters, in the cultural landscape of Laurel Canyon, by way of Montecito.

See musicacademy.org.


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