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Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

April 20, 2005

Peter Yawitz ’80

This winter Peter Yawitz ’80’s cabaret act won an award from New York cabaret, jazz, and comedy critics. (

Corporate by day, cabaret by night
Musical comedian Peter Yawitz ’80 makes fun of working stiffs

Preschool admissions interviews. Overzealous soccer dads. The inanities of corporate lingo. Such topics are fodder for small talk at Reunions, but if you’re Peter Yawitz ’80, they are much more than that. The ins and outs of being a family man earning a living in corporate America form the basis of his cabaret act, A New Man, which finished its run in Manhattan this spring and won the 2005 Nightlife Award for Outstanding Musical Comedy Performance. The award was presented by New York cabaret, jazz, and comedy critics.

Yawitz writes or co-writes the lyrics to most of his songs, which reflect his own everyday experiences: “At my wife’s class reunion, like dutiful lackeys/The husbands are dumped/I’m with bald guys in khakis.” Other songs crack the code of male-to-male communication and parody the annual ordeal of workplace performance evaluations. Cabaret is not what Yawitz predicted he’d be doing nearly 25 years after graduating with a psychology degree, determined to make his mark in business. But that is, after all, the point: The theme of the show is one of transformation and self-acceptance as a husband, father of two, and provider. His day job is running the corporate communications firm, Clear Communication, he founded in the 1990s.

Yawitz acted in school plays as a kid, but focused on other things at Princeton. “I was determined to be serious,” he says. Post-M.B.A. stints in real estate weren’t entirely satisfying, so he started acting in amateur productions at night. He wondered if performing was his calling. Then his job at the real-estate division of a savings and loan association ended, giving him the opportunity to audition and perform full time. His wife, Carol Phethean ’81, encouraged him. After a few years, the peripatetic (and cash-poor) life of a performer wore thin. He returned to business and started his communications firm. But he never lost the acting bug and several years ago, he took a cabaret workshop.

A New Man evolved from those initial efforts. With the award and successful runs under his belt, he hopes to land more gigs. “Now, when people ask me what I do, I say I do two things,” he says.

By Katherine Hobson ’94

Katherine Hobson ’94 covers science and medicine at U.S. News & World Report.