I love cabaret.
As an audience member, it is always a joy to hear a plethora of beloved songs from an ensemble of talented singers and performers, especially knowing just how much of a challenge such an endeavor can be.
In large cities with a rich history of professional theater, a cabaret is often a performance outlet for up-and-comers or down-and-outers trying to get a leg up in their career. In smaller regions, such as Hampton Roads, a cabaret has often been turned into little more than a showcase for one or two singers disproportionately taking the limelight away from the rest of the performers. So when Peninsula Community Theatre announced they were producing a holiday-themed cabaret for Valentine’s Day, I had to find out more. Who is in the cast, will it be a clichéd array of songs, and will it be the same as every other cabaret? What I found out is that this will be a performance well worth the time and money.
The appropriately named Cupid’s Cabaret is a balanced selection of songs and singers. The word ‘cupid’ may make you think that the night will be nothing but love songs – be they heartfelt or mushy depending on the listener’s perspective – but the evening centers on the theme of human relationships. Director Jenn Thomas, the Show Production Manager at Busch Gardens, says, “we are of course presenting songs about romantic relationships and all the phases they go through, but we are singing about friendships, too.”
The criteria used to select songs were two-fold: showcase PCT talent and balance the emotional tone of the evening. Songs such as “Agony” (Into the Woods), “It Only Takes a Moment” (Hello Dolly) and “Suddenly Seymour” (Little Shop of Horrors) provides a lighter musical fare that Ms. Thomas says is intentional.
For the love song traditionalists in the audience, songs such as “Some Enchanted Evening” (South Pacific), “In His Eyes” (Jekyll and Hyde) and “Love Makes the World Go Round” (Carnival) offer plenty of reasons to hold hands with a significant other. In other words, expect a mix of classic and contemporary musicals that pays homage to the full spectrum of emotions we experience in any relationship.
In addition to great music, patrons can expect holiday décor and will be offered gourmet chocolates and champagne. The stage will be set in a classic cabaret style with a lone piano and four-top café tables. The evening’s lineup is a combination of new names and PCT veterans for the two-hour performance. Audience members that frequent Community Theater in Hampton Roads will recognize the voices of Charity Robinson, Stephen Maney and Dara Sherman, who are joined on stage by equally talented singers such as Zach Burgess, Marshall Robey and Lyric Knockum. Of course there are more singers included in the Cupid ensemble, but the surprise is worth the wait.
So while other cabarets may be second- or third-tier in metropolitan areas or showcases in disguise, PCT and Jenn Thomas have put together a truly ensemble production that is fitting for every age, musical taste or relationship status. If you enjoy talented performers singing great songs and if you want to see more performances like the cabaret or musical revue, then you will want to make plans to attend one of next weekend’s shows.
Performance dates are Friday and Saturday, February 10th and 11th at 8:00pm both nights. Tickets are just $25 and can be purchased here.