Thursday, June 4, 2015

"CABARAVE: #sexuality" by Rathaus Productions at the Lab Theatre

There's something new and cool going on down at the Lab Theatre, the gorgeous and open warehouse-turned-performance space in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis. CABARAVE is cabaret experience that combines a nightclub feel with performances of dance, music, aerial dance, and visual art. I was lucky enough to attend the last tech rehearsal with my blogger buddy Laura of "One Girl, Two Cities," where it felt like they were performing just for us! The performances were spectacular, and even though we didn't get the full nightclub experience at a rehearsal, it's easy to imagine what it will be like when the Lab is filled with revelers (and may require a future visit to get the full flavor of it). Created by Jessie Storovich and Kameron Nelson of Rathaus Productions (read more about them here) with help from Sasha Andreev and director Joshua Campbell, the intent of the show is to create a fun, relaxed environment where people who might not usually go to "arty" things can experience art while having a good time, perhaps without even realizing it!

dancer Emily Madigan
CABARAVE: #sexuality runs Thursdays through Saturdays throughout the month of June (along with a few Monday night dates for the 18+ crowd, otherwise you must be 21 to enter), and will return in July with a new theme. Doors open at 9 pm and close around 1 am, with the intent being you can wander in whenever and stay as long as you please (with the lowest ticket price at $10, you don't have to stay long to get your money's worth). The evening is constructed as five 20-minute sets, separated by about 30 minutes of house music provided by the DJ, during which time you can dance, mingle, and drink (beer, wine, and wine cocktails served at the bar). The music is a modern twist on jazz and ragtime classics, known as "electro swing." It's pretty cool, familiar yet new sounding.

Each 20-minute set includes several short performances, a sort of mix and match from the following:
aerialist Timothy Herian
  • Dance - including some fierce tapping by Rush Benson, sexy duo numbers by fantastic dancers Emily Madigan and Jeff Robinson, and able assistance (as well as waitressing) by Michelle Lemon and Georgia Sylvester in various combinations.
  • Aerial dance - Timothy Herian is so graceful, confident, and athletic on the aerial silks that I couldn't take my eyes off him whenever he performed. It's a very cool (and somewhat dangerous) form of dance.
  • Music - powerful and gorgeous singing by Kecia Rehkamp and Michael Hanna, and electric fiddle by Alison Keller.
  • Visual art - artist Aimee Strzok paints a new creation every night. It's not often you get to watch a piece of art be created, so it's a fascinating peek into the process.

dancer Rush Benson
The Lab is one of my favorite places to see theater because it's so open and adaptable, with great bones. For this show the space is decked out in chandeliers and hanging crystals, with the lobby turned into a shabby chic green room of an old theater. Cabaret tables on the floor and risers provide a perch from which to watch the action, with plenty of floor space between the three stages for dancing (if that's your thing).

As someone who (willingly) sees a ton of theater, it's always a treat to see something that pushes the boundaries of what theater can do and be, as this show does. CABARAVE is a unique experience and one that regular theater-goes like myself can enjoy as much as people who would never step foot inside a theater. It's a fun place to go and hang out with friends and strangers, and oh by the way, there's "art" happening all around you! Watch the trailer below, and if you like what you see, make plans to head to the Lab Theater this summer (more info and tickets here).