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Bard’s Beloved Spiegeltent Returns, with Cabaret Headlined by John Waters, Sandra Bernhard, Susanne Bartsch, and More, All Hosted by Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, Plus Live Jazz, Dancing, and Dining

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY: The opening of the 2017 Bard SummerScape festival on Friday, June 30 signals the return of the authentic Belgian Spiegeltent. This luxurious “tent of mirrors” has proved a sensation since first arriving at Bard in 2006, when it impressed audiences with its wooden floors, shimmering chandeliers, mirrored walls, stained-glass panels, and red velvet ceiling. Conveniently situated near the striking Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center, the Spiegeltent affords a sumptuous and magical environment in which to enjoy cutting-edge cabaret – headlined this year by artists including John Waters, Sandra Bernhard, and Susanne Bartsch – and world-class jazz, dining, after-hours dancing, and more throughout the seven-week festival (June 30–August 19). Longtime Spiegeltent favorite and Tony nominee Mx. Justin Vivian Bond – “the greatest cabaret artist of this generation” (New Yorker) – returns for a fourth consecutive season as host, MC, and guest curator, welcoming festival patrons into a realm of sophistication, spectacle, and glamour.
Mx. Justin Vivian Bond (photo: David Kimelman)

Bard’s glittering “Mirror Tent” comes from Belgium, where such tents and the special entertainment they host have been a beloved tradition for the past century. The Spiegeltent is a marvel of engineering, comprising 3,000 interlocking parts, with a spellbinding interior of carved wood surfaces, parquet floor, beveled mirrors, stained-glass windows, and splendid velvet canopies. Flanked by table and booth seating, the tent’s stage hosts a dazzling selection of entertainers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as some Sundays, all summer long. Before and after any SummerScape performance, the Spiegeltent provides the ideal setting in which to enjoy offerings from the Hudson Valley’s rich array of farms, orchards, dairies, and wineries, including produce from Bard’s own farm.

On Friday and Saturday nights, Spiegeltent Cabaret offers sophisticated entertainment with an adventurous edge. Irrepressible “Pope of Trash” John Waters, nightlife icon Susanne Bartsch, legendary singer Ms. Lisa Fischer, and singer-songwriter Joan Osborne are among those making their SummerScape debuts, while favorite returning acts include Sandra Bernhard, Toshi Reagon and BIGlovely, Meow Meow, and, of course, the inimitable Mx. Bond. Almost all Spiegeltent Cabaret shows have sold out quickly in previous summers. Friday and Saturday nights continue After Hours, when the finest guest DJs – Miss Guy, Bros. Molina Sound System, Tikka Masala, and Sammy Jo among them – spin the decks. Patrons can dance in the company of SummerScape artists and take advantage of the after-hours menu and late-night bar.

On Thursday evenings, the Catskill Jazz Factory at the Spiegeltent presents “Jazz Through the Looking Glass”: a tour of five decades of jazz from Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks, the Brianna Thomas Quintet, Walking Distance, The Aaron Johnson Ensemble with Veronica Swift, and the Vuyo Sotashe Ensemble. Special events include Bard’s beloved summertime swing, complete with live music and pre-performance dance instruction from the professionals, and a special, free, family-friendly 50th anniversary performance of John Cage’s Musicircus.

Before and after each performance, patrons can enjoy Dining at the Spiegeltent – indoors or outside in the beautiful gardens – with a menu of seasonal fare served at selected lunchtimes and dinnertimes on Thursdays through Sundays (see detailed dining calendar here). A full bar offering complements the dinner menu.

Program details for all Spiegeltent offerings follow below.

Spiegeltent Cabaret

  • Hosted by Mx. Justin Vivian Bond
  • Fridays and Saturdays, July 7–August 19
  • Except where noted, all performances start at 8:30pm
  • Dinner and drinks will be available during the performances
  • Tickets start at $25
  • Performances may contain nudity, and are for mature audiences only.
    No one under 18 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.

John Waters: This Filthy World

Benefit Performances

Friday, July 7 at 6pm & 8:30pm

Legendary filmmaker, comedian, and national treasure John Waters (Cry-Baby, Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Hairspray) launches the Spiegeltent season with his provocative one-man show. Part confession, part vaudeville, This Filthy World takes on taboos with all the inherent charisma and charm of the man William Burroughs once called “The Pope of Trash.” As Time Out New York put it, “The crown prince of perversion is, thankfully, as indecent as ever.” Click here to see a video trailer for This Filthy World.

Sandra Bernhard: Sandra Monica Blvd: Coast to Coast
Benefit Performances
Saturday, July 8 at 6pm & 8:30pm

Comic, singer, and writer Sandra Bernhard returns to the Spiegeltent with Sandra Monica Blvd: Coast to Coast. This one-woman show takes audiences on a journey to find the soul of America by way of its back roads, set to an AM-radio-style soundtrack. The Los Angeles Times likens Bernhard’s act to “hanging out with a hip and funny friend who never fails to lift you up with her outrageous freedom,” and Comedy Central voted hers as one of the 100 best standup acts of all time. “Give the dame her due,” writes the New York Times. “It’s invigorating to be in the presence of a true original.”

Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely

Friday, July 14 at 8:30pm

Described by Vibe magazine as “one helluva rock’n’roller-coaster ride,” singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon returns to the Spiegeltent with her band BIGLovely to celebrate all that is progressive and uplifting in American music. Boasting a big-hearted blend of R&B, country, and folk, “her vocal style ranges from a dirty blues moan to a gospel shout to an ethereal croon” (New York Times).

Meow Meow

Saturday, July 15 at 8:30pm

Postmodern diva Meow Meow’s unique brand of kamikaze cabaret kitsch and performance art exotica has hypnotized, inspired, and terrified audiences worldwide. The spectacular crowd-surfing queen of song returns to the Spiegeltent for another explosive evening of music, politics, mayhem, and magnificence, dragging “cabaret kicking and screaming into the 21st century” (Time Out New York).

Ms. Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton – a dance party

Friday, July 21 at 8:30pm

Lisa Fischer makes her Spiegeltent debut with a one-of-a-kind dance party. After four decades singing backup for icons like the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, and Nine Inch Nails, Fischer finally stepped into the spotlight as the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom. Now fronting her own band, Grand Baton, she emerges as an inventive and heartfelt interpreter of rock and soul, all infused with African, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean rhythms.

Susanne Bartsch presents

BARTSCHLAND at the Spiegeltent

2017 SummerScape Gala After Party

Saturday, July 22 at 9pm

Bard’s sumptuous and exclusive SummerScape Gala After Party will be hosted by nightclub legend Susanne Bartsch, “a pioneer on the New York club, art, and fashion scenes since the ’80s” (Vogue). For more than three decades, Bartsch’s New York soirées have been the place to see and be seen. Transcending uptown and downtown, gay and straight, chic and street, Bartschland provides a venue for countless creative souls to come together, express themselves, and forget the humdrum of the everyday.

Suzan-Lori Parks’ Sula and the Noise

Friday, July 28 at 8:30pm.

Songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Suzan-Lori Parks makes her Spiegeltent debut with her band Sula and the Noise, exploring the roots, triumphs, and struggles of life in contemporary America through music with a distinctly Afro-Americana vibe. Parks is best-known for her groundbreaking work as a playwright and screenwriter, for which she has been recognized with a MacArthur “genius” grant, a Tony Award, and – becoming the first African-American woman to be so honored – the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

Karen Elson
Saturday, July 29 at 8:30pm
English singer-songwriter and guitarist Karen Elson is one of the most sought-after models in the world, having appeared on the covers of VogueElle, and magazines. She is also a self-taught musician. Her first album, The Ghost Who Walks, recorded with Jack White, was praised as “a 20th-century-Americana-laced gothic song cycle, shot through with blues and folk references” (Interview). Her Spiegeltent debut is timed to celebrate the release of her much-anticipated follow-up album, Double Roses.

Mx. Justin Vivian Bond’s House of Whimsy
Friday, August 4 & Saturday, August 5 at 8:30pm

Patrons are welcomed back to the House of Whimsy – an alluring, edgy, and irreverent evening of divas and deviants from the downtown performance scene – as selected and introduced by “transatlantic cabaret messiah” (Time Out London) Mx. Justin Vivian Bond. Spiegeltent favorites mingle with talented newcomers in a program of provocative variety acts.

Joan Osborne Sings the Songs of Bob Dylan

Friday, August 11 at 8:30pm

Joan Osborne has rightfully earned a reputation as one of the great voices of her generation – a commanding, passionate performer and a frank, emotionally evocative songwriter. A multi-platinum selling recording artist and seven-time Grammy nominee, she has performed alongside Luciano Pavarotti, Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris, and Bob Dylan. Now she makes her Spiegeltent debut with her acoustic trio, covering songs by the 2016 Nobel Prize-winner in literature, Dylan himself.

BACK TO (ab)NORMAL: An Evening with Rebecca Havemeyer, Dane Terry, & CHRISTEENE

Saturday, August 12

Mx. Bond presents a double bill of cabaret stars. Piano balladeer Dane Terry – the “millennial Cole Porter” (John Cameron Mitchell) – returns after wowing the Spiegeltent in last summer’s House of Whimsy, and actor Paul Soileau appears as his widely divergent alter egos Rebecca Havemeyer – “Austin’s finest bingo hostess” – and Christeene, feral gender-bending princess of punk. Together, the two combine to offer a salty-sweet smorgasbord of today’s best queer performance. Scheduled to appear: Dane Terry, Angela Di Carlo, Brontez Purnell, Taja Lindley, and more.

Joan As Police Woman

Friday, August 18 at 8:30pm

Indie rock darling Joan Wasser, a.k.a. Joan As Police Woman, makes her Spiegeltent debut with a set featuring favorites from her first five albums. Having toured and recorded with Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright, Antony and the Johnsons, and others, her sultry, slow-burning songs “remind us of a time when pop tunes wound up in jazz clubs without losing anything in translation” (Pitchfork).

Mx. Justin Vivian Bond Shows Up

Saturday, August 19 at 8:30pm

The Spiegeltent season draws to a joyful conclusion when Mx. Bond bids adieu to the summer with an evening of songs, stories, and surprises, selected from 25 years of legendary performances.

Catskill Jazz Factory at the Spiegeltent

  • Jazz Through the Looking Glass: A tour of five decades of jazz
  • Thursdays, July 13–August 10
  • Performances start at 8pm
  • Tickets start at $25; see the whole series and save 25%

1920s: Birth of the Big Band

Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks

Thursday, July 13

Grammy Award-winning Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks revisit the era of bootlegged booze, the foxtrot, and jazz-age decadence in an evening of vintage swing. It was Big Band leader and multi-instrumentalist Giordano who brought the sounds of the Roaring Twenties to life in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and he was recently featured in the multi-award winning documentary There’s a Future in the Past, a behind-the-scenes look at the group’s virtuosity, vintage musical instruments, and more than 60,000 period band arrangements.

1930s: The Magic of Mahalia

The Brianna Thomas Quintet

Thursday, July 20

Young vocalist Brianna Thomas – the “best young straight-ahead jazz singer of her generation” (Wall Street Journal) – draws on two titans of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson and Thomas Dorsey, in a modern take on the songs that reshaped America’s sacred music. Dorsey, the father of black Gospel music, met Queen of Gospel Jackson in the 1930s, launching a 14-year musical and touring partnership. Thomas follows in their footsteps, leading her ensemble in a passionate tribute to their emotional and uplifting repertoire.

1940s: Yardbird to Freebird

Walking Distance

Thursday, July 27

Sharing its passion for bebop and the music of master saxophonist Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, dynamic jazz quartet Walking Distance – “a creative firebrand of a band worth hearing and following” (DownBeat magazine) – presents the Catskill Jazz Factory debut of its upcoming sophomore release, Freebird. By stretching, flipping, reversing, and reorganizing Parker’s masterpieces, Walking Distance has created original pieces that infuse their essential spirit and energy with contemporary flair. The quartet will be joined by pianist Orrin Evans, a hard-charging force in the jazz world and bandleader on more than 25 albums.

1950s: Hollywood & Vine: Jazz Goes West

The Aaron Johnson Ensemble, featuring Veronica Swift   

Thursday, August 3

Commissioned by the Catskill Jazz Factory, Hollywood & Vine presents a retrospective of 1950s West Coast jazz, where the frenetic sounds of bebop met the laid-back cool of sun and surf in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Aaron Johnson (on saxophone, clarinet and flute) leads rising vocalist Veronica Swift and an ensemble drawn from the New York jazz scene in fresh takes on time-tested favorites and forgotten gems from June Christy and Bob Cooper, Stan Kenton, Julie London, Buddy Collette, Shorty Rogers, the Lighthouse All-Stars, and more.

1960s: Songs of Protest and Reconciliation

Vuyo Sotashe Ensemble

Thursday, August 10

Jazz vocalist Vuyo Sotashe – a Fulbright scholar and winner of South Africa’s biggest music scholarship competition – performs the politically-charged songs of artists who expressed the cultural revolution of 1960s America through pop, rock, soul, and jazz. In an evening dedicated to artists whose music often defined their time, Sotashe and his band perform the songs of artists including Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Miriam Makeba, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Harry Belafonte.

Special Events

  • Stories, songs, swing, and more
  • Tickets start at $20; admission to Musicircus is free
  • Dates and times as shown

The Porch: Where Stories Are Told

Friday, June 30 at 8pm

Launched last year by Red Hook resident Joey Shavelle and hosted by John Nathan of Rhinecliff, The Porch at the Spiegeltent offers an intimate evening of true stories, told without notes for an adult audience.

Spirit Family Reunion

Saturday, July 1 at 8:30pm

The Spirit Family Reunion, a young Brooklyn-based Americana band, makes its Spiegeltent debut with raw, high-energy gospel songs, reminiscent of bluegrass and Appalachian music, that “translate perfectly info foot-stomping singalongs” (NPR).

Summertime Swing

with Professor Cunningham and His Old School

Sunday, July 2; doors open at 6pm, dance instruction begins at 6:30pm, dancing until 10pm

Spiegeltent favorites Linda and Chester Freeman of Got2Lindy Dance Studios return for a night of swing dancing, accompanied by New Orleans jazz from Professor Cunningham and His Old School, winners of the 2016 International Swing Band Competition.

Summertime Swing

with Eight to the Bar

Sunday, July 16; doors open at 6pm, dance instruction begins at 6:30pm, dancing until 10pm

Linda and Chester Freeman offer another night of swing dancing, this time with music from Eight to the Bar. As Sound Waves magazine writes, “I started going to see Eight to the Bar in the 1980s and I’ve consistently been blown away by their vocal harmonies, nonstop energy, and super slick arrangements of swing, jazz, blues, doo wop, and Motown tunes.”

John Cage’s Musicircus

Presented by the Bard College Conservatory of Music and John Cage Trust

Sunday, August 13 at 6:30pm

Free admission

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of John Cage’s Musicircus, first mounted at the University of Illinois in 1967, the John Cage Trust collaborates with musicians from the Bard College Conservatory of Music and its extended community for a celebratory performance of this historic and anarchic work. A family-friendly, free event held both indoors and out to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Cage’s death and his ongoing legacy, Musicircus features chance-determined performances – often simultaneous and always surprising – by more than 40 musicians.

After Hours

  • Fridays and Saturdays, June 30–August 19
  • All performances start at 10pm and end at 12:30am
  • Tickets: $12 (or free with ticket to any same-day SummerScape event)
  • After Hours performances may contain nudity, and are for mature audiences only. No one under 21 will be admitted to After Hours.

Bros. Molina Sound System
Friday, June 30
The Union Brothers, Simi Stone Music Page, and Anthony Molina – aka the Bros. Molina Sound System – launch the After Hours season with a night of music, drinking, and dancing.
Saturday, July 1 & Saturday, August 12
The Catskills’ own Queenston Homo Disco provides the perfect late-night queer club experience.
Sammy Jo
Friday, July 7 & Saturday, July 8
A professional tune-slinger heard everywhere from basement clubs to sold-out arenas with the Scissor Sisters, Spiegeltent favorite DJ Sammy Jo returns to spin a legendary set.
JD Samson
Friday, July 14 & Saturday, July 15

Best known as a member of Le Tigre and MEN, indie icon JD Samson returns to the Spiegeltent with music designed to charge up the dance floor.
Johnny Dynell
Friday, July 21
Johnny Dynell, whose NYC club residencies include The Mudd Club, Danceteria, The Pyramid Club, Area, BoyBar, The Limelight, and The Roxy, makes his second appearance at the Spiegeltent.
Amber Valentine

Friday, July 28 & Saturday, July 29
A staple of the East Village and Brooklyn nightlife scenes, Amber Valentine brings her decks of dance tunes upstate for her first Spiegeltent party.
Tikka Masala
Friday, August 4 & Saturday, August 5
As heard at the White House’s annual Diwali festival, Brooklyn-based DJ Tikka Masala returns to spin an eclectic mix that emphasizes South Asian music, classic dancehall, and hip hop.
Jonjon Battles
Friday, August 11
Electro pop expert and “DJ to the stars” (Daily Motion) Jonjon Battles returns to the Spiegeltent to keep the dance cards loaded.

Miss Guy
Friday, August 18 & Saturday, August 19

“A pioneer in the DJ world” (Spin) who has spun in booths from Tokyo to London and Milan, DJ Miss Guy – aka lead singer of the Toilet Böys – returns to spin a legendary end to the Spiegeltent season.

Dining at the Spiegeltent

  • Thursdays–Sundays, June 30–August 19 (see detailed dining calendar here)

The Spiegeltent is the SummerScape festival’s oasis, a place to enjoy seasonal, locally inspired food and drink before and after performances, while the lovely outdoor garden provides the perfect spot to relax in the company of friends and festival artists long after the curtain comes down. Dinner reservations are recommended, and will be available from June 30 at, giving the restaurant’s name as “Fisher Center Spiegeltent.” Click here for menus.

Special support for the Spiegeltent is provided by Andrew E. Zobler and Manny Urquiza.

SummerScape 2017: other key performance dates by genre


Bard Music Festival, Weekend One: “Chopin, the Piano, and Musical Culture of the 19th Century” (Aug 11–13)

Bard Music Festival, Weekend Two: “Originality and Virtuosity” (Aug 18–20)


Antonín Dvořák: Dimitrij

Sosnoff Theater

July 28* & August 4 at 7:30 pm

July 30*, August 2 & August 6* at 2 pm

Tickets start at $25


New York City Ballet MOVES: Robbins’s Dances at a Gathering and other works by Balanchine and Peck

Sosnoff Theater

June 30; July 1 & 2* at 7:30 pm

July 2 at 2 pm

Tickets start at $25


The Wooster Group: A PINK CHAIR (IN PLACE OF A FAKE ANTIQUE) (world premiere)

LUMA Theater

July 13, 14, 15*, 20, 21 & 22 at 7:30 pm

July 16*, 19, 22 & 23* at 2 pm

Tickets start at $25


“Chopin and the Image of Romanticism”

Ottaway Film Center

Thursdays and Sundays, July 27–Aug 20

Tickets: $10

All programs are subject to change.


SummerScape opera, theater, and dance performances and most Bard Music Festival programs are held in the Sosnoff Theater or LUMA Theater in Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and celebrated since its opening as a major architectural landmark in the region. Some chamber programs and other BMF events are in Olin Hall, and the Spiegeltent has its own schedule of events, in addition to serving as a restaurant, café, and bar before and after performances. Film Series screenings are at the Jim Ottaway Jr. Film Center in the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Center.

New York City Round-Trip Coach Transportation:

To make a reservation on the round-trip SummerScape coach provided exclusively to ticket holders for specific performances indicated by * in the listings above, call the box office at 845-758-7900 or select this option when purchasing tickets. The round-trip fare is $40 and reservations are required. The coach departs from behind Lincoln Center, on Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets. Find additional details at:

Bard SummerScape ticket information

Tickets for all Bard SummerScape events are now on sale. For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit

The 2017 SummerScape season is made possible in part through the generous support of Jeanne Donovan Fisher, the Martin and Toni Sosnoff Foundation, the Board of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, the Board of the Bard Music Festival, and Fisher Center members, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

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© 21C Media Group, June 2017

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