Denise Tomasello

In winning the After Dark Award for "Outstanding Cabaret Artist" and Chicago Cabaret Professionals' Gold Coast Award, Denise Tomasello's prolific career is established in her hometown Chicago while spanning from coast to coast.

"A showstopper," and "wildly glamorous wickedly amusing" & "consummate cabaret performer" according to the Chicago Tribune, Tomasello has headlined with such comedy legends as Don Rickles, Alan King and Jackie Mason who said, "She is an amazing singer and a brilliant comedian... She is so natural on stage she is the female Dean Martin."

Crowned "Chicago's Cabaret Queen," by both the Tribune and Chicago Sun Times, Tomasello's performances have included capacity crowds at Park West, Drury Lane, The Empire Room @ The Palmer House, The Auditorium Theatre, The Pump Room, Gentry, Byfield's and Davenport's. It was an introduction by Bill Cosby's agent to local agents Joy Dickens and Norma Gimbel that led her to restaurant and nightclub owner Gene Sage, which would change the course of her career. Sage heard Denise sing and immediately knew she was the right fit for his namesake venue in the landmark Churchill Hotel in the Gold Coast neighborhood. During her record-setting five nights per week, six year run at Sage's, Tomasello was a celebrity among celebrities, entertaining bold names such as Harry Carey, Mayor Daley, Dennis Farina, Mary Tyler Moore, Jack Brickhouse; then Indianapolis Colts owner Bob Irsay, Tom Dreesen, Irv Kupcinet, Second City's Joyce Sloan, Senator William Marovitz and more. Her popularity during the time surged, and her name was so prestigious, that her time at Sage's was the longest reign of a cabaret performer in a legendary room in Chicago's history.

Tomasello also held court as the longest running cabaret act at the nationally renowned Metropole Lounge in the Fairmont Hotel, performing six nights per week. Her reign at Sage's and Metropole is compared to Bobby Short's run at the Cafe Carlyle in New York City. Tomasello also opened for James Darren (Moondoggie from the film Gidget) at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club, and she was the first Chicago performer invited to sing at New York City's Cabaret Convention. She was a featured performer at Eighty Eight's in Manhattan, Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, The Gardenia in Los Angeles and Michael Feinstein's Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Impressed by her talent, Jackie Mason gave Tomasello equal billing alongside his name at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. These appearances led to an urge to move to California. While L.A. had its appeal, her relationship with Chicago audiences was more like a love affair, and she soon returned home to her beloved Windy City, where she currently lives with her husband Don Conover.

Tomasello launched her career at a Chicago institution, the American Conservatory of Music. In her late teens, she entered a pageant where her demonstrated talent and beauty drew the attention of the music industry and led to her first professional debut with show bands in Chicagoland area. Tomasello's stardom grew from her time at Sage's and led to critically acclaimed headline acts at Taste of Chicago and in benefit performances at notable venues, including a performance alongside Sandy Duncan and Jason Bateman at the Chicago Theatre. One such critic at the Sun-Times proclaims she has "classic drop-dead chanteuse style" and "it's easy to feel possessive about this superb entertainer - she's sexy funny and smart and she turns each of her songs into a little play she's a treasure you want to share with someone special."

In addition to her lauded cabaret career, today she is an accomplished actress in the Chicago theatre scene and can be heard on national commercials with a list of corporate clients including Toyota, American Airlines, SkyChefs, Marriott, Dow Chemical, Motorola and Oscar Meyer.

Denise Tomasello...a "Chicago Musical Institution," Chicago Sun Times.


"The Night That Never Was" at The Empire Room of the Palmer House Hilton,
Chicago Nov 26, 2016

copyright 2022 Barb Bailey