Lake Harriet Bandshell as Theater Latte Da presented their annual cabaret show "Latte Da in the Park." I've seen all five of the performers in the past year: Laurel Armstrong (Into the Woods, Flying Foot Forum's original new musical Heaven, On the Town), Sheena Janson (as the man-eating plant in Mu's Little Shop of Horrors), Randy Schmeling (Latte Da's Violet, one of my 2010 favorites, Joseph at the Ordway, TC Theatre Artists Support Japan), Erin Schwab (also in TC Theatre Artists Support Japan), and Max Wojtanowicz (as Cliff in Frank Theatre's wonderful Cabaret). These talented performers were accompanied by, as always, Latte Da's Musical Director Denise Prosek, and Artistic Director Peter Rothstein was on hand to announce the upcoming 2011-2012 season.
"Alive and Kicking" was the opening act of the show - a chorus made up of men and women aged 61-94, directed by Latte Da resident choregrapher Matthew Michael Ferrell. They sang a few rock classics with more energy than I can usually muster up, and they were kind of adorable. Another big part of the entertainment was watching Matthew's one-man dance as he directed the chorus. They were obviously having a great time (click here for a WCCO news story about the group).
On to the main act of the evening. The performers sang an interesting selection of songs from musical theater, many of which I've never heard before. I appreciate that because it introduces me to lesser-known musicals I might never have heard of otherwise. (Unlike the man I heard complaining that they didn't sing any "showtunes," like from Fiddler on the Roof or Man of La Mancha. You're in the wrong place, buddy, Theater Latte Da is about the future of musical theater, not the past.) Laurel started off the show singing a song about falling in love with a boy who plays the clarinet, and later sang the Stephen Sondheim song "Girls of Summer." Max sang "I Talk to the Trees" from the Lerner and Loewe musical Paint Your Wagon, and a beautiful song called "Lost in the Wilderness" from the musical Children of Eden. Erin sang a couple of great musical theater songs that I actually have heard before - "It Won't Be Long Now" from In the Heights and "There's a Fine, Fine Line" from Avenue Q. Sheena's selection of songs included the very funny "Crossword Puzzle" from the musical Starting Here, Starting Now. Randy sang a really lovely song called "Favorite Places" which I discovered is from a new musical called Ordinary Days. Here it is being performed by Hunter Foster (Urinetown and Little Shop on Broadway, and The Government Inspector at the Guthrie).