cabaret & performance conference

The Cabaret & Performance Conference reexamines, redefines, and revitalizes the cabaret art form for the 21st century using a definition of cabaret as “any kind of live performance in an intimate space that breaks the fourth wall.”

Junior Fellows Applications


Fellows Applications


Conference Dates

August 10 - 20, 2022

The Conference brings some of the biggest names in cabaret theater to perform at the O’Neill each summer, providing valuable development and performance training for select up-and-coming performers on the cabaret scene.


Recent Conference artists include: Judy Kuhn, Tonya Pinkins, Norm Lewis, Molly Pope, Melissa Manchester, Karen Mason, Christina Bianco, Joyce Breach, Brad Simmons, Matt Baker, Eric Yves Garcia, Mark Hartman, Brian Nash, Natalie Douglas, The Skivvies, Nick Adams, Shirley Jones, Jim Caruso, Billy Stritch, Mimi Hines, Susie Mosher, Betty Buckley, and Tommy Tune.

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Conductor, pianist, composer, orchestrator, record producer, Grammy and two-time Emmy Award winner, John McDaniel was seen leading the band daily on The Rosie O’Donnell Show for its entire six year run. He wrote the theme song and received five Emmy nominations for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition. On the show, he worked with such artists as Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Dick Van Dyke, Neil Diamond, Dolly Parton, Liza Minnelli, Rosemary Clooney, Barry Manilow, Chaka Kahn, and Madonna.

Recently, John participated in a live Playbill concert event in Times Square welcoming back Broadway, featuring Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jessica Vosk and Chuck Schumer. McDaniel produced and directed a virtual concert of Sticks & Stones, for which he is also the composer, starring Audra McDonald & Javier Muñoz.  


He first worked with Rosie in 1994 when he conducted the Broadway revival of Grease in which Rosie played Rizzo. McDaniel also created new vocal and dance arrangements for this production. Stars throughout its run included Brooke Shields, Jon Secada, Sheena Easton, Chubby Checker, Debby Boone, Jennifer Holliday, and Al Jarreau.

His recent Broadway credits include Bonnie & Clyde, for which John received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Orchestrations; Catch Me If You Can; and Brooklyn, which he also orchestrated and produced.

Mr. McDaniel was the supervising Music Director of the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun, starring Bernadette Peters (and subsequently Reba McEntire), which won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and for which he received the Grammy Award as producer for Best Musical Show Album. He also was the supervising Music Director for Boy George’s Taboo on Broadway in 2003, and produced the cast album. He conducted the smash hit Chicago on Broadway, the 1993 reunion of the original Broadway cast of Company in concert at Lincoln Center, the U.S. tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express, Off-Broadway’s Blame It On the Movies, as well as solo performances for such esteemed artists as Cab Calloway, Shirley MacLaine, George Burns, Betty Buckley, Bette Midler, Frederica von Stade, and Carol Burnett. Mr. McDaniel also arranged the show Patti LuPone on Broadway.


In 2011, McDaniel made his opera debut, conducting The Daughter of the Regiment at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.


His musical adaptation of Pirates! has played the Goodspeed Opera House, the Paper Mill Playhouse, the Huntington Theatre in Boston, and most recently the St. Louis Muny Opera.


He arranged music for the Tony Awards on CBS in 1997, 1998 and 2000. Other arranging and conducting credits for television specials include A Rosie Christmas for ABC, starring Celine Dion and Marc Anthony, and the Friars Roasts of Jerry Stiller, Rob Reiner, Hugh Hefner and Chevy Chase, all for Comedy Central, as well as A Family is a Family for HBO.


He has been a featured pops conductor for the Milwaukee Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Oklahoma Philharmonic, the Colorado Symphony, the Stamford Symphony and the Utah Symphony orchestras as well as multiple return engagements with the San Francisco Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Indianapolis Symphony and his hometown St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.


In 2001, Mr. McDaniel produced and conducted a national television commercial in the wake of 9/11 to promote tourism in New York City starring Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Michele Lee, Joel Grey, Elaine Stritch and a host of other Broadway stars.


Mr. McDaniel produced and conducted "The Maury Yeston Songbook" for PS Classics featuring Tony Award winners Betty Buckley, Sutton Foster and Christine Ebersole among many others. Mr. McDaniel has recorded four solo CDs, John McDaniel at the Piano: Broadway, John McDaniel at the Piano: Christmas, and John McDaniel at the Piano: Compositions, and most recently, John McDaniel Live at Joe’s Pub. He produced the Broadway Cast Recordings of Bonnie & Clyde, Brooklyn, Taboo as well as The Journey Home (Malcolm Gets). Other recording credits include the Broadway cast album for the revival of Grease on the RCA/Victor label, Patti LuPone Live! on RCA/Victor, as well as Davis Gaines’ release, Against the Tide.


He is the recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for his music direction of Chicago, as well as multiple Drama Logue awards. Mr. McDaniel received the Board of Director’s Award from the Manhattan Association of Cabaret in 2000. In 2002, Mr. McDaniel was elected to The Television Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors.


A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. McDaniel first studied piano with his mother Jane, and earned his BFA degree in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University.

learn more about our programs


A dynamic opportunity for performers to refine their skills and stage presence with the guidance of an accomplished team of professionals.


Offering select middle and high school students an opportunity for professional vocal instruction, movement, and hands-on artistic guidance in the art of performance.

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