FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM FEBRUARY 8, 2018 • BUZZ • THE QUEENS COURIER 65
Flushing cabaret singer continues
her inspiring journey with new show
BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
email@example.com / @smont76
A Flushing woman who endured a personal
tragedy in the public eye is continuing
her artistic journey with a new set of
shows this month.
Musician and writer Renee Katz is slated
to perform her new show, “Winter
Awakenings,” at historic club Don’t Tell
Mama in Manhattan on Feb. 2, 9 and 11.
Aft er returning to her cabaret career last
year with her performance of “Never Been
Gone,” a multi-modal glimpse into her life,
Katz’s new show explores a woman’s journey
through the trials of winter toward
Th e lifelong Queens resident has endured
a remarkable journey of her own. At 17, Katz
made national headlines when on June 8,
1979, she was pushed in front of an oncoming
E train at the 50th Street station in
Midtown. Th e aspiring fl utist, pianist and
vocalist survived the random act of violence,
but her right hand was severed.
Katz was rushed to Bellevue Hospital
Center, where microsurgeons worked for
16 hours to reattach her hand. Th e attempt
was successful, but her blossoming musical
career was disrupted.
Th e singer, occupational therapist and
mother called her return to the cabaret stage
in 2017 “exciting and emotional.”
“I had my comeback in the same club that
I sang my fi rst cabaret show when I was in
my 20s and 30s,” Katz told QNS. “It was
exciting that it was well received.”
Her new show, “Winter Awakenings,”
contains work from “December Songs”: a
song cycle by Maury Yeston inspired by
Franz Schubert’s “Winterreise.”
“It’s a journey of 10 continuous songs, one
fl owing into the next, that talks about refl ections
Katz practices at her Flushing home with show musical director, John Cook Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
and memories that forever stay within
us,” Katz said. “It gets hopeful at the end —
that as we move on, we can move forward.”
Th e song cycle is framed by poetry and
other selected songs, including “I’ve Got My
Love to Keep Me Warm” by Irving Berlin
and “Ribbons Down My Back” from “Hello,
“I always try and do diff erent things,” Katz
said. “I don’t sing things that I don’t feel.”
John Cook, the musical director for
“Winter Awakenings,” said he was drawn to
the show’s unique and literary feel.
“It was diff erent in format than most cabaret
shows would be,” Cook said. “And the
“December Songs” cycle has really only
been attempted by a handful of singers, at
For her work in the industry, Katz and two
other performers were recently honored by
the New York City cabaret community as
part of a show called “It’s Just A Number.”
Th e event was organized by award-winning
songwriter Bobbie Horowitz.
“I feel really grateful to be back on the
New York City cabaret stage,” she said. “It’s
a beautiful community; everybody supports
one another. Cabaret is a beautiful art form
where you’re in an intimate setting and you
can actually communicate emotions to the
audience — and I love that.”
Katz credits her husband, Barry Packer, as
one of her greatest motivators.
“We would go to my friends’ cabaret
shows, and one day he just said, ‘I’m not
going to any more until you do one,’” Katz
said. “He’s just been really supportive.”
“Just to see her up there on stage and
watch as the whole thing came together …
I realized how much work goes into this,”
Packer said. “You sit there and you really
In a long and harrowing journey, Katz
said the constant has been her love of music.
“Th ere are diff erent times in your life for
diff erent things, but that doesn’t mean you
lose your passion for the things you love,”
Katz said. “Music is my fi rst love — and that
never goes away.”
“Winter Awakenings” will take place on
Feb. 2 and 9 at 7 p.m. and on Feb. 11 at 6
Don’t Tell Mama is located at 343 West
46th St. and can be reached at 212-757-
0788. Th ose interested in attending one of
Katz’s shows should call to make reservations.
Payment is taken at the door.
Keep up with Katz’s upcoming performances
and artistic career on www.
Little Neck’s ‘RoboPandas’ win a spot in city robotics championship
BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
firstname.lastname@example.org / @smont76
A Little Neck robotics team earned
their “golden ticket” to advance to a citywide
championship next month.
P.S. 94’s RoboPandas took fi rst place in
robot performance and were awarded the
Champion’s Award at the FIRST LEGO
League Qualifi er at the Horace Mann
School in the Bronx on Feb. 3. Th ey will
compete against the best teams from the
fi ve boroughs at the league’s championship
event on March 11.
Team members Kellen Yu, Andre
Wang, Lily Lu, Ava Jack, Anthony Arias,
Silvia Jun, Nolan Reinhardt and Eric
Leem have been preparing for the series
of competitions since the beginning of
the school year. Th e students spoke with
QNS about their ongoing process at a
send-off event on Jan. 25.
For their research project, team members
came up with the “Moat-o-swale,”
a new and improved bioswale design
meant to reduce fl ooding in their hometown.
Th ey also designed a robot, “Aquabot,”
which they specially programmed and
designed to complete a series of timed
tasks at each competition.
Th e school continues its history of success
at the Lego robotics competitions.
Last year’s team of fi ft h-graders moved
on to earn second place in the city championship.
Th is year’s New York City First Lego
League Robotics Championship will take
place at City College of New York on
March 11. Th e all-day event is open to
Learn more at www.fi rstinspires.org. Photo via Twitter/@PS94DavidPorter