Honestly, if the annual Court Street Cabaret gets moved any earlier, next year’s cabaret is going to be this year!
But good-natured snark aside, the CSC is always a highlight of my year. It’s a chance for me to work with some of my favorite cast-mates from history, and with folks I don’t ordinarily get to share a stage with. This year’s cast list includes Alexis Dow Campbell, Allison Graham, Dani Fiore, Kara Miller, Trish Baillie, Patty Cole, Jason Whetstone, and local drag personalities Felicia O’Toole Buffington and Maxwell Treats.
Court Street Cabaret repertory includes favorites “from Broadway and beyond”—the area’s best vocalists sharing music they were born to sing, and a special “miscast” set that allows us to tilt the lens a bit on roles we have no realistic hope of auditioning for. This year’s audience can expect to hear old and new favorites from artists like Bette Midler and The Beatles; and from composers like Stephen Schwartz, William Finn, Craig Carnelia, and Cole Porter; plus a section of “covers of covers of covers”, where we’ll re-interpret our favorite re-interpretations of favorites.
The show runs January 13 & 14 at 7:30pm in the intimate Angino Family Theatre at Open Stage of Harrisburg, 25 North Court Street, between Market and Walnut Streets, in downtown Harrisburg. Tickets are $20 General Admission or $35 for VIP. For advanced ticket purchase, call the Open Stage Box Office at 717-232-6736 or visit openstagehbg.com.
If you’re anything nothing like me, you end every year with pockets full of cash just aching to be turned into tax-deductible contributions to worthwhile non-profits. And while I have a list of many such causes that I keep handy year-round, it’s worth pointing out that for the rest of 2016—just a few short hours now!—a generous grant is matching one-third of every contribution to Open Stage of Harrisburg, my home-away-from-home and generous East Shore studio host. A $15 contribution is worth $20 to Open Stage. $75 becomes $100. $300 becomes $400. You get the idea. If your accountant is waggling her finger at you for saving up too much dough, here’s your chance!
But seriously. Any gift would be appreciated beyond its impact on your wallet.
Have a safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve, and may your 2017 be full of reminders of love, peace, and good will.
Once a year or so, Rev. Aija lets me take the reins (and the pulpit) for what we call “Music Sunday”—a worship experience that’s all about music, except when it’s not. Coming up with a theme for Music Sunday is always pretty easy—there’s always a song I’ve wanted to find an excuse for the choir to sing, or a topic I’ve wanted to write a song about, or a story I’ve wanted to tell. Except for this year.
This year, as America’s democracy seems to have devolved into a battle of mudslinging and “who’s evil-er than whom,” and as ever-improving and ever more ubiquitous technology makes it harder for injustice to disguise itself as rumor or hyperbole, I find myself feeling inadequate. There is too much wrong with the world for one little sermon or one new choir anthem to fix it.
My prayer habits are quite a bit different now than they used to be, but my spirituality is still one of stubbornly second-person theology: I no longer even pretend to understand fully who or what God really is, but I know it’s not me. So after struggling for too long to find the right focus for Music Sunday, I threw my hands up and asked the Universe for a hint—and silence was the response. Not silence-the-absence-of-response silence. Silence-the-potent-beginnings-of-all-that-is silence.
It started with a Facebook post from a friend of mine:
One line in particular caught my eye, because I hear it a lot from people of color when they express frustration with the “shallow understanding from people of good will” that so often describes the reaction that I and other white allies fumble to manage as we work for justice. “Have a seat and study some more.”
In other words, shut up and listen. There are important things to be said, and you need to hear them.
So this Sunday at UUCV we’ll be seeking silence. Talking about silence. And singing about silence. And most importantly, spending more time in silence than nearly any of us are comfortable with, because growth is hardly ever comfortable.
We’ll also be hearing some breathtakingly gorgeous music, of course. You know I love to show off my little choir, and they are working magic with the Mark Hayes arrangement of “The Sound of Silence”—last night’s rehearsal left me with goosebumps. Adding Dani and Marc, who will be backing us up on Sunday on drums and bass, will just take things to a whole new level.
We’ll also be premiering a new choral piece I wrote for the occasion, called “Sing It.” The lyrics follow; I do hope you’ll join us on Sunday at 10:30 AM to hear the choir give it wings—and I hope it moves you to the right kind of silence.
In the silence,
without noise, without words to save the day,
I can hear me, but I’m not sure what to say.
Rage against? Stand behind?
Play it safe? Play the hero?
Do I ever say a word that starts inside?
Now I finally have the chance, and I hide.
Then I hear it—
though at first I’m afraid I’m not alone—
soft and clear, it speaks a truth I recognize as my own.
And it speaks, without words, of a strength here within me
that could change the world if only I would try.
So I slowly close my eyes, and breathing deep,
I sing it soft and low and gentle
like the breeze that runs its fingers through my hair.
I sing it deep and true and wordless,
like the beating of a heart that’s always there.
I sing it silently within, and let the music work its magic
in the veins that carry life to every corner of my soul.
When I finally claim the silence,
I sing it gentle.
Eyes are open,
and at last I can see I’m not alone.
You’ve been singing too,
and your spirit harmonizes with my own.
And we sing, and our hearts gather strength here among us
that can change the world if only we will try.
And when we know we’re not alone,
we sing it loud! We sing it strong!
We sing it boldly from the mountaintop,
and bravely at the coffee shop,
and lovingly to everyone we meet!
Love is born in silence,
but for love to survive,
we must sing it loud!
My good friend Jeremy Patterson has a new YouTube interview show called the Capital Area Theatre Show. Guess who he invited to be his second-ever interviewee?
Tune in below or on the show’s YouTube channel to hear our milkshake-fueled conversation about art and life and idols and dreams and fears and insecurities, and why we do all that we do. (And he eventually was able to steer me back around to Pippin, which was supposed to be the point of the show to begin with….)
If you’ve had your life together since day one, and don’t have any idea what it’s like to wonder who you’re supposed to be or what you’re supposed to do in the world, you may want to ignore this post.
The rest of us will want to make a point of being present in the luxurious Sunoco Performance Theatre at Harrisburg’s Whitaker Center when the Capital Area School for the Arts presents Pippin, the debut musical from the creator of Wicked and Godspell.
Actually, I probably should say the rest of you will want to make a point to be there. I already have a confirmed seat for all four performances: on the piano bench with the rest of the band. (I’m musical director and principal keyboardist for the production.)
At this point it’s customary for me to launch into a directorial testimonial of sorts, attempting to capture the magic of live theatre with a well-crafted list of superlatives in the hope that you’ll be motivated to give up a few hours on a weekend to spend time with talented high-schoolers. But I think they can sell themselves better than I can do the job, even in a rinky lil’ iSight video through a tiny laptop microphone. Here’s Drew Patti as Pippin and the rest of the company singing “Morning Glow” in rehearsal the other day:
Seating is general admission, and all seats are $12, available in advance at casamusicals.com. Will you join us?