Cabaret Advice

  • gdrayson
  • December 24, 2012 4:30 pm

Advice For Booking Cabaret Entertainment

For the purpose of this page we are defining ‘Cabaret’ as any show that takes place in a venue either without a stage or with only a raised area. Although traditional it is not necessary to combine these shows with a meal. The following hints and tips are provided to enable you and your guests to get the most out of the event.


This very much depends on what else you have planned for the event, obviously if you are going to be having a meal then sufficient space is required to allow for tables and chairs. Whilst on this point it is worth mentioning that it is virtually impossible to combine a successful cabaret show with a strand up or buffet style meal, if you are intending the two to run concurrently. There is little point in paying out for quality entertainment if your guests can neither see nor hear them.

Far better if you can to get what ever else is going on, over and done with and then sit back and focus on the entertainment. You will need sufficient space so that any waiters or waitresses can serve drinks etc without crawling over folk (although you probably don’t want them clearing tables etc.) and that everyone can see clearly.

If you have a small stage or raised area so much the better, but make sure you have liaised beforehand with the entertainment over the required space and access points. In many venues everything will be on one level. In this case the front row needs to be far enough back that they feel comfortable and not loomed over by the performers.

A final thought in this category is the angle of vision. Depending on the style of entertainment your guests may need to be encouraged to move to a position where they will get maximum benefit from the show, again your performer will be able to advise on these ‘sight lines’. Assuming the most traditional shape for a venue is rectangle the natural positioning is to have the entertainment across one of the ‘short’ walls. However this may seriously hinder folk at the back from feeling a full part of what is going on; it’s worth considering placing the entertainment along a ‘long’ wall and bringing everyone that bit closer to the action.


This is a critical part of your planning and depends very much on the make up of your guests. For instance, will there be young children present or parents with baby sitters? The last thing you want is for them to be sitting on the edge of their seats wishing the event would finish and they could get away! Is it a weekend event followed by a potential lie-in or will folk be back to the office first thing in the morning? These factors all play a part in the potential enjoyment of your guests. With realistic liaising between yourself and any caterers, performers etc., it is possible to set a finishing time. If you place this on publicity / invitations etc. it allows folk to relax and plan accordingly (of course this means that sticking to it is vital) it doesn’t mean you kick folk out on the stroke of twelve. It just means that folk know when the activities are over and those who want to can gracefully leave!

The average cabaret is somewhere between 45 minutes and two hours. Any less and people feel let down, more and they feel shell shocked! A good rule of thumb is “less is more”. In other words, it’s better to have your guests leave raving about the great entertainment, than wishing it would stop.


This will vary hugely depending on the style of entertainment you have booked, but it’s fair to assume that there will be some common ground. Most acts will need access to a good reliable sound system… someone’s ghetto blaster and karaoke microphone plugged in won’t be enough! Lighting will need to be considered, nothing is worse than a candle lit meal followed by the neon strip lights being switched on to starkly illuminate the entertainment. Time spent liaising with the performers will pay huge dividends in terms of good atmosphere and enjoyment.

One of the most often overlooked areas is heating. Although when you arrive a building may be freezing, by the time it’s packed with guests eating, talking and enjoying themselves the temperature will certainly have begun to rise. Often the best person to ask is the caretaker or staff at the venue, their experience is invaluable, however it needs to be heeded before the event rather than in the midst of a crisis. Obvious things to avoid include automatic heating coming on and turning your venue into a sauna; and at the other end of the spectrum are guests seated directly in front of doors that allow arctic gales to blow in!

Performers are human too and somewhere to prepare and get changed is always appreciated. A relaxed performer will do a better job and your guests will have a better time as a result.


Suitability is the key to a great evening. Is the venue suitable for the performer? Its hardly worth booking a steel band and limbo dancers for a 15 foot square marquee in your back garden! Is the audience suitable for your entertainment? Operatic arias or poetry recitals may be your cup of tea but guests with small children may not be as overwhelmed.

When combining performers it’s best to take advice from an experienced agent or the ‘headline’ performer. Putting the brides favourite heavy metal band on the same stage as the grooms favourite juggler may not be a match made in heaven! Issues of space, timing and performing styles all need to be taken into consideration, although the most bizarre mixes will work with a little forewarning and flexibility!

The simple path to a great event is communication. Most performers will appreciate your efforts to plan ahead and respond accordingly. No one wants to be booked only to turn up and find its impossible for easily avoidable reasons. Time spent talking before the event, and the flexibility to respond will lay the groundwork for a memorable event.

Key Points

* What is the Venue like?
* What else needs to be incorporated into the timetable?
* Is the entertainment suitable for your guests
* Liaise with the entertainers over technical issues

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