Stephen Hanks performs ‘Don McLean: Storyteller’ at Union Temple

Star of stage and computer screen: Online cabaret reviewer performs his own show

The Brooklyn Paper
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He won’t just be saying bye, bye Miss American Pie.

A Park Slope cabaret-show critic will swap his computer keyboard for the musical kind when he gives a cabaret performance of classic Don Mclean ditties at Union Temple in Prospect Heights on May 15. Yes, he will do “American Pie,” but the performing penman and said he also hopes shine a spotlight on the lesser-known tunes in the McLean oeuvre.

“I like to start off with one verse of ‘American Pie’ because people know it, but just a taste,” said word-slinger-turned-singer Stephen Hanks. “I’ve always thought the rest of his songs are very under appreciated.”

Full disclosure — in 2011, Hanks worked for this very newspaper selling advertising space. But he said he soon discovered his true passion was cabaret, not classifieds, when he opened a small production company and became a cabaret reviewer for the online publication Broadway World, where he is now an editor.

“I’d be doing ad sales at the paper and then running around seeing shows at night,” he said.

Hanks said he was drawn to cabaret in particular because it offers a more theatrical experience for the performer and patrons.

“Cabaret is a very intimate art-form where the connection between the singer and the audience is a little bit closer than your average concert where it’s just a singer doing a set,” he said.

This is Hanks’s second show devoted to Don McLean. In 2013, he penned and performed a show called “Beyond American Pie: The Don McLean Songbook,” which he reprised last year. His new show, “Don McLean: Storyteller” — which he will also perform on the distant island of Manhattan next month — will focus on 16 songs that Hanks says show McLean’s talent as an American griot. The tunes cover a range of genres — including folk, pop, and ballads — but all of them have a tale to tell, he said.

“Whether relationships or political statements, it’s that kind of a set as opposed to random Don McLean songs,” Hanks said.

Stephen Hanks performs “Don McLean: Storyteller” at Union Temple (17 Eastern Parkway between Plaza Street East and Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 638–7600, Friday May 15 at 8 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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