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    Mad Men’s Bryan Batt Brings His Cabaret Show to SF

    In 1995, the gay romantic comedy Jeffrey hit movie theaters. One of my favorite lines is from a scene where the character Darius, while wearing a Cats costume, describes Les Misérables as a story about, “A French guy who steals a loaf of bread and suffers the rest of his life…for toast.” The line was delivered by Bryan Batt, and I have been a fan of his ever since.

    You might have more recently seen him in the first three seasons of the TV show Mad Men, when he played the closeted Sal Romano, the role for which he won two SAG awards. You might also know him from Broadway, as he has played leading roles in numerous productions. Bryan, who is no stranger to New York and Los Angeles, is bringing his cabaret show, “Batt On A Hot Tin Roof,” to San Francisco this month.

    A Southern boy from New Orleans, Bryan fell in love with Tom Cianfichia after college when he first moved to New York. He’s been out ever since. The couple will soon be celebrating 25 years together and are also newly engaged. Since they have been together for as long as many married couples, I asked Bryan if he had any words of wisdom for other newly engaged couples after the demise of DOMA and Prop 8. Bryan offered, “It’s work and you get out of it what you put into it.” Work, in his case, doesn’t just apply to the relationship, since he and Tom own two successful high-end design and gift shops, called Hazelnut, in Louisiana.

    While Bryan has worked on Broadway for over two decades, he was terrified of performing cabaret until recently. “There’s no set, no costumes, no hydraulics,” he explained. “There’s no fourth wall. The audience is right there and the reason they are right there is to see you.”

    Performing in this capacity is something he may never have done if it weren’t for his friend, Barbara Motley, the owner of the club Le Chat Noir. She invited him to be a part of a cabaret benefit for Hurricane Katrina in 2006. He enjoyed it more than he expected to, and shortly thereafter put together his own show.

    Bryan describes “Batt On A Hot Tin Roof” as “a mixed bag of nuts of me.” He performs some of his favorite tunes: a combination of Cole Porter, Billy Joel, a lot of Broadway music “…and some risqué stuff that most people have never heard before.” Michael Levine will be joining him on piano as Bryan has performed every cabaret show with him since the beginning.

    Bryan, a Renaissance man, is a writer as well. He has authored two books, including a memoir- She’s Not Heavy, She’s My Mother– and the design book Big, Easy Style. Both are available online at www.hazelnutneworleans.com.

    Society Cabaret presents Bryan Batt’s “Batt On A Hot Tin Roof” at Hotel Rex in Union Square, August 15-17. Tickets are available at www.societycabaret.com. Follow BryanBatt on Twitter and learn more about him at www.bryanbatt.com.

    Shelley MacKay is a Bay Area-based jazz, pop, r&b and rock vocalist/songwriter. Learn more at www.shelleysings.com.