On the very night the world was supposed to end (12/22/12, for those of you living under a rock), I attended my first cabaret at Cumberland County Playhouse. From what I’ve gathered, CCP has started doing a late night cabaret a couple of times a year. I’ve managed to miss every one so far.
This winter I was determined to make it, and make it I did.
After the Friday evening showing of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (which I also attended), the Winter Cabaret took place in the lobby of Cumberland County Playhouse. With desserts available and cabaret style seating, it was cozy and candle lit.
Emcee Weslie Webster started off the night doing a duet with Lauren Marshall of the SNL parody “Santa’s My Boyfriend,” setting the mood and bringing smiles to every face.
Performance after performance, CCP actors came out and delivered their best. Every single performance was outstanding.
Carly Hueston Amburn and Anna Baker did a lovely version of “Winter Song” by Sara Bareilles, while Leila Nelson tackled “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables with wonderful results. Anna Baker added a dash of jazz with a fabulous version of “When Sunny Gets Blue” and the trio of Austin Price, John Dobbratz & Douglas Waterbury-Tieman threw in some country with a version of the Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried.”
Music Direction Ron Murphy played a festive panio solo called “Skating.” This was one of my personal favorites of the night. It made me feel like I needed to be bundled up outside in the snow (though Tennessee is noticeably absent of snow most Decembers).
There were three other performances that really stood out in my mind as being highlights. First was an appropriately picked version of R.E.M.’s “End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” that went straight into a rousing cover of FUN’s “Some Nights” that was performed by the Golden Smoke Boys, made of up of Austin Price, Daniel Black, Douglas Waterbury-Tieman, Colin Cahill and John Dobbratz. This definitely got the most audience participation. At least out of the group of people that I was sitting with. We couldn’t help but sing along.
Perhaps the most clever and funny performance of the night was from Chris Rayis and Douglas Waterbury-Tieman. Both extremely talented musicians, they took comedy and a love of theatre to a whole new level of geek-dom. And it was fabulous. They performed a selection of Christmas tunes to different musical theatre themes. Honestly, I hope someone got it on film and plans on posting it to youtube. It was quite the performance.
“O Holy Night” set to the tune of “Oklahoma” with a little South Pacific thrown in. “Deck the Halls” set to some Jerry Herman selections (I believe I heard some Hello, Dolly! and perhaps some La Cage Aux Folles and maybe some Mame, but don’t quote me on that). “Up On the Rooftop” was done with a Fiddler On the Roof twist while Frosty the Snowman was crafted around some Sweeny Todd. “We Three Kings” and “Star of Wonder” were give some Andrew Loyd Webber love by crafting around some songs from Phantom of the Opera. “Rudolph
the Red Nosed Reindeer” was most cleverly set to “Defying Gravity” from the
ever popular Wicked. “You’d Better Watch Out” was infused with Jason Robert Brown, starting with The Last Five Years and I picked up some 13 at the end. The last song of their creative endeavor was the classic Christmas tear-jerker “The Christmas Shoes” only it was the tune and the story was all Les Misérables, giving it a hilarious turn that had everyone laughing.
I will be honest, my absolute favorite of the entire night was the finale. “O Holy Night” was performed by Michael Ruff with the rest of the CCP company helping him out. It was beautiful. I may be slightly partial, as “O Holy Night” is my favorite Christmas song ever, but I think they did a truly beautiful job. It was a perfect close to the evening.
I can’t help but hope that Cumberland County Playhouse continues to have these cabaret performances. It was a change for me. A little musical theatre, a little Christmas music, a little popular music, yet it blended well, it moved along seamlessly, and was one of the most fun times I’ve had at CCP in a long time. You can bet I’ll do everything in my power to get to the next CCP cabaret. There’s nowhere I’d have rather spent the evening of the end of the world.