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...and for my next number, I'd like to sing an old favorite of

With the recent revival of the musical 'Cabaret,' young people are

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This tradition has not taken root in the American cabaret scene, where the emphasis is on glorifying popular songs by writers such as George Gershwin and Cole Porter. But where the two traditions meet is in the emotional heart of the song.

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"It's a one-on-one experience for the performer and the audience," says Les Traub, director of Cabaret West, an organization devoted to the growth of cabaret on the West Coast. "It's a direct connection between them," he adds, that is more intense than other sorts of live entertainment.

His four-year-old organization is modeled on the Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs, which he says launched the current revival when it was founded a dozen years ago. Since 1995, his group has grown from the founding 15 members of club owners and performers to more than 300. Similar organizations have sprung up in San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston.

Changing demographics also have helped fuel the growing attention to cabaret. Tom Rolla owns one of Los Angeles's preeminent cabaret clubs, Gardenia.

"A lot of actresses who find that TV and film no longer have a spot for them find a life in cabaret," he says. Mature actresses such as Cybill Shepherd and Andrea Marcovici have pursued singing careers that now may outlast their acting careers.

"Nobody thinks about age in cabaret," Mr. Traub says, pointing to some of the top names who have thrived in its cozy world.

Musical director Matz suggests that cabaret is a good medium for an actor to continue honing his skills. But the fact there are more mature performers available is also evidence of the maturing baby boom, which in turn is creating bigger audiences for all sorts of entertainment. "The audience will have a pendulum swing, too," he says. "As they mature, they're going to want more meaningful forms of entertainment."

Beyond the demographics, Cabaret West's Traub says that anyone with an interest in music will benefit from the resurgence of cabaret, because it is the soul of American popular music. "It perpetuates an important American art form that's not being done on Broadway, which is going rock," he says. "Cabaret is keeping it alive, which is important because it is a vital part of our cultural heritage."

Where to see cabaret

Cabaret is performed in clubs all over the United States and around the world, usually in a room seating fewer than 100 people. Expect to see a performance that is personal and from the heart.

If you plan to attend a show, be sure to make reservations, be on time, and cancel if you change your mind. Making a reservation allows the performer and the cabaret staff to prepare for the show.

Some noteworthy clubs:

NEW YORK:

Algonquin Oak Room, West 44th St. (212) 840-6800.

Danny's Skylight Room, West 46th St. (212) 265-8133.

Don't Tell Mama, West 46th St.

(212) 757-0788.

Kit Kat Club, West 43rd St.

(212) 819-0377.

LOS ANGELES:

Cinegrill in the Ambassador Hotel

(213) 466-7000.

Gardenia on Santa Monica Blvd.

(213) 467-7444.

CHICAGO:

The Metropole Room at the Fairmont Hotel, (312) 565-8000.

*For cabaret listings all over the country, and for more information, check out www.svhamstra.com