Of all the performances I cover, those that are educational in nature have a special place in my heart. “We Know Things Now – Seniors on Sondheim” presented at The Cabaret on Friday, Jan. 20, proved to be no exception. The performance was a culmination of a cabaret course taught to the graduating BA in Musical Theatre students of Ball State University’s class of 2023. Featuring 12 students, the showcase focused on the music of the iconic composer Stephen Sondheim, who died in 2021.
Introduced by William Jenkins, professor of Theatre and department chair at the BSU Department of Theatre and Dance, the students included Imani Brissett, Skylar Doescher, CeCe Donathan, Eliza Hallal, James Hayakawa, Katie Jordan, Jonathan Kalinen, Teah Mirabelli, Evan Morales, Jeremiah Smith, Richaun Stewart, and Sawyer True. Under the tutelage of Broadway performer Megan McGinnis, the students were accompanied on piano by faculty members Michael Rafter and Johnna Tavianini.
To be fair, I wish to emphasize that all the energetic students demonstrated vocal excellence, exhibited dramatic talent, and possessed showmanship. However, standing out in solos were Brissett who sang “Not While I’m Around,” Smith in “I Know Things Now,” Jordan in “What More Do I Need,” Donathan in “Marry Me A Little,” Mirabelli in “Now You Know,” and Hallal, who performed a mash up of “Everybody Says Don’t/Don’t Rain on my Parade.” While introducing their songs with their personal stories, they all excelled at connecting with the sold-out audience.
Deserving of praise as well are Hayakawa and True who accompanied themselves on guitar in “Children Will Listen” and “Unworthy of Your Love,” respectively. Mirabelli who accompanied herself on piano excelled in “Teah’s Number.” Moving me greatly was an affecting interpretation of “Agony” sung by Brissett, Stewart and company as a plea for racial acceptance and tolerance. Songs performed in unison by the entire cast and those sung by groups, all reflected superb harmonization.
As someone who wears multiple hats, one of my pursuits is serving as managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret, with a mission of spotlighting local talent and serving as an incubator. I also regularly review shows featuring world class performers at The Cabaret in Indy, as well as venues in New York and other markets and most, recently. Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael in Carmel. Therefore, I believe I am uniquely qualified to judge performers who practice the cabaret art form. With that said, I believe that each of the promising BSU students showcased in “Senior on Sondheim” have the talent and training to step onto any cabaret and/or Broadway stage to shine as story tellers and entertainers.
For tickets and information about the-2023 winter season The Cabaret visit thecabaret.org
Great to reconnect after Liz’s show last night!
Thank you for making time to catch us, and to visit a bit afterwards
As I mentioned during our chat, I will be returning to Feinstein’s (I believe it’s the weekend of March 11) with actress-singer ANN TALMAN. Her unique show is called ELIZABETH TAYLOR: THE SHADOW OF HER SMILE.
It was inspired by Ann’s relationship with Taylor, which was forged when the two played mother and daughter in the 1981 Broadway revival of Lillian Hellman’s THE LITTLE FOXES.
Ann’s show is not your typical cabaret turn, but more of a theater piece, in which the songs supplement the stories, rather than the other way around. Still, there’s plenty of music throughout, and an eclectic song list that encompasses Amanda McBroom, Rodgers and Hart, Bacharach/Sager, Newley/Bricusse, Coleman/Fields, Cahn/Van Heusen, and the Gershwins.
We launched the show (directed by Lina Koutrakos) at 54 Below, and you can find several reviews and feature stories online. Ann can send you those, along with photos and performance footage, if you’re interested.
Side note: In addition to her Broadway, regional and television acting credits, Ann is also an acclaimed filmmaker, whose documentary short film about her severely handicapped brother (“Woody’s Order”) has won awards. She can send a link to that, too.
You mentioned you might like to interview her – a most generous offer.
I know Ann would appreciate that enormously.
Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to assist in connecting you and Ann.
Thanks again for coming to the world premiere of “Screen Gems”. You were in the very first audience to receive it, and it was a pleasure for us to perform for you!
Thanks for reaching out. I will certainly contact Ann and request an interview and also review her show. I enjoyed our chat and look forward to seeing you March 11. My email is email@example.com and my cell is 317-502-5926.