Saturday, July 18, 2020

"An Evening of Show Tunes with Tyler Michaels King" at Crooners MainStage Tent

Friends, it's been nearly 5 months since I've seen live entertainment. On February 23, I attended Colleen Somerville's "Songs for Feeling Better" at Bryant Lake Bowl (which has now moved online). On February 26 I left the country to spend two weeks in paradise, aka New Zealand, returning home on March 11 to a world that was, and continues to be, very different from the one we knew. I'm approaching my 10th anniversary of blogging about #TCTheater, and of all the unexpected things that have happened, going nearly 5 months without seeing live entertainment is one I could never have imagined. I'm sure that hasn't happened in my life in 20 years. But here we are, in this pandemic/quarantine/isolation that feels endless, but hopefully one day we'll look back on as something we made it through, stronger and better. And the good news is that live entertainment is slowly beginning to return, although it looks different than it used to, and will likely continue to look different for some time. Crooners Supper Club in Fridley has started doing outdoor drive-in concerts (as well as lakeside patio concerts), complete with car-side food service. I attended my first show this week (of four planned, maybe with more to be added) - titled "An Evening of Show Tunes with Tyler Michaels King." It felt so good to be in a (appropriately distanced) group of people, listening to music and stories, laughing and clapping, almost like normal life.

First, a bit about Crooners. Note that things are changing and evolving, but this is what I experienced. The stage is under a tent between the parking lot and Moore Lake. Also under the tent is spaced table seating for two or four, and bar seating. Just beyond the tent are 2-3 rows of drive-in car parking. You will be directed to your space, which allow at least six feet between cars, and the sooner you arrive the better your spot ("doors" open 1-1.5 hours prior to showtime, check details of event). If you don't drive a convertible and would like to be out in the open air, you can bring chairs, or use the chairs they have there, and sit just in front of your vehicle. There is the option to tune in your car radio to the sound system, but it wasn't necessary where I was parked. Although sometimes I had a little trouble understanding when the performers were talking, the music sound was great. The protocol is, like at all restaurants and public spaces, to wear masks while not eating. Although I took mine off when sitting in my open car well away from others.

Crooners is offering a limited dinner menu for service at the tables, or in your car. I had a delicious veggie flatbread, which was delivered right to my car (I literally did not leave my car the entire night) in a take-out container. The bill is delivered towards the end of the show in the typical bill folder, which felt like too much touching things for my comfort level, but I had my hand sani handy as usual. I would love to see an online option for paying, to eliminate the need to pass objects back and forth.

Click here to view the full schedule of events. A few noteworthy theater-adjacent concerts:
  • July 23: #TCTheater legend Dennis Spears with Debbie Duncan
  • July 26: Chronofon, aka Dan Chouinard, Bradley Greenwald, Diana Grasselli, and Prudence Johnson - "Summer of '66: Talkin' Bout My Generation" (and the fabulous Erin Schwab performs at the lakeside patio at 5, might be a great double-feature!)
  • August 1-2: #TCTheater composer/lyricist (Glensheen among others) Chan Poling and his band The New Standards
  • August 10: #TCTheater artist Leslie Vincent's release concert for her lovely new album These Foolish Things (available on Bandcamp)
  • August 19: my favorite band Storyhill!

Sasha Andreev, Aimee K. Bryant, Tyler Michaels, Suzie Juul,
Evan Tyler Wilson, and Louis Berg-Arnold
And now a few words about the show. If you've ever seen Tyler Michaels King on any number of stages around town, you know what an all-around talented artist he is. He brought all that talent to this cabaret style evening of showtunes, joined by his equally talented friends Aimee K. Bryant, Evan Tyler Wilson, Sasha Andreev, and Suzie Juul, accompanied by Louis Berg-Arnold on keyboard. They sang a nice selection of musical theater favorites, as well as some lesser known songs, mostly solos with a few duets thrown in. What's better than sitting outside on a gorgeous summer night, listening to talented local performers sing showtunes?!

For those who are nerdy like me, here's the songlist (as near as I could figure it):
  • "Willkommen" (Cabaret) - Tyler (reprising his role as the Emcee in Theater Latte Da's 2014 production) and all
  • A song sung by Amelia Earhart in the musical Vanishing Point - Aimee (in which she conjured the wind)
  • "Disneyland" (Smile) - Suzie
  • "The Butterfly" (The Story of My Life) - Evan
  • "What Do I Need with Love?" (Thoroughly Modern Millie) - Sasha
  • "That Face" (The Producers) - Tyler
  • "Bad Idea" (Waitress) - Suzie and Evan
  • A song from the musical Ever After - Sasha (the show was supposed to be produced by the Ordway last December but it fell through)
  • "I Don't Know What I'd Do" (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder) - Suzie (a song she didn't get to sing while appearing in Old Log's fantastic recent production)
  • "Mama Says" (Footloose) - Tyler (with support from Sasha and Evan)
  • A delightful song naming 50 or so of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes that Aimee usually sings at the Minnesota State Fair
  • "Heaven on their Minds" (Jesus Christ Superstar) - Evan (receiving the only standing ovation of the night, other than at the end)
  • "Follow Your Heart" (Urinetown) - Suzie and Tyler
  • "Ms. Celie's Blues" (The Color Purple, the movie) - Aimee (who starred as Celie in Park Square's 2015 production of the musical adaptation)
  • "Finishing the Hat" (Sunday in the Park with George) - Sasha (a song he never got to sing when he was understudying George and playing Franz in the Guthrie's stunning 2017 production)
  • "Don't Do Sadness/Blue Wind" (Spring Awakening) - Tyler (reprising his role as Moritz Stiefel in Theater Latte Da's 2012 production) and Suzie
  • "Out There" (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) - Evan
  • "You Can't Win" (The Wiz) - Aimee
  • "Bring Him Home" (Les Miserables) - Evan
  • "In Whatever Time We Have" (Children of Eden) - Sasha and Aimee
  • "Hold On" (The Secret Garden) - Suzie
  • "How Glory Goes" (Floyd Collins) - Tyler (a hauntingly beautiful song I haven't heard in too long; fun fact - Floyd Collins was the first Theater Latte Da production I ever saw, way back in 2006 pre-blog)
  • "No One is Alone" (Into the Woods) - Aimee and Sasha, all
The final song is one I take a lot of comfort in right now:
Hard to see the light now
Just don't let it go
Things will come out right now
We can make it so
Someone is on your side
No one is alone