Tuesday, September 1, 2020

"An Evening with Kate Beahen" at Crooners Lakeside Cafe

What good is sitting alone In your room?
Come hear the music play.
Life is a Cabaret, old chum,
Come to the Cabaret.

I don't know about you, but I've been doing more "sitting alone in my room" the last six months than any six-month period in my entire life. For someone who's used to going to the cabaret, i.e., theater, 3-5 times a week, that's quite a change. As I told someone last night, life just feels a little empty right now. But fortunately, there are still cabarets that are safely happening; one of the few places is at Crooners Supper Club, which has a couple of different options for outdoor concerts. I've been to enough of their drive-in concerts that the workers recognize me and/or my bug, but this was my first time attending a concert at their lovely Lakeside Cafe, to see the one and only Kate Beahen.

You've likely seen Kate on any number of stages around town, most recently in Theater Latte Da's stunning production of Bernarda Alba in January, most brilliantly in Lyric Arts's regional premiere of If/Then, playing (and owning) the two roles written for Idina Menzel. But before last night I'd never seen her performing her own cabaret show, a role, as it turns out, she's perfectly suited for. She can sing a wide range of songs beautifully, with easy humor or deep emotion. And she's a genial and personable host, joking with the crowd and making us feel like we're all just hanging out, sharing music and stories. All in all - a perfectly lovely evening.

In her dozen and a half songs (ably accompanied by Louis Berg-Arnold on keyboard), Kate ventured beyond musical theater and included a few pop or jazz standards ("You Belong To Me," Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why"). My favorites among the musical theater songs (some of which were new to me) were "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables, "Trouble" from The Music Man (a dream role that I would love to see her play!), and of course, the aforementioned title song from Cabaret. Kate was joined by a couple of her talented friends for a few numbers. A young woman named Ava with a lovely voice, in her first performance, sang a few charming duets with Kate ("Fly Me to the Moon" and "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You"). And Evan Tyler Wilson shared his gorgeous voice as well on a few songs, including one of my favorite musical theater duets, "Suddenly Seymour."

Crooners has a full schedule of concerts through the end of the month, and hopefully will continue to add shows into the fall, so keep checking their website. You can read about my experience at the drive-in shows here. I found the Lakeside Cafe to be a nice experience as well (note that you do have to enter the building to walk through it to the patio in the back). I'm being pretty cautious about this pandemic (I have yet to dine in a restaurant, even outdoors), so I wore my mask the whole time and didn't order food or drinks. But if you're someone who's comfortable with the outdoor dining experience, you can enjoy that at the Cafe as well. As with the drive-in shows, all staff are masked, as are patrons when not eating, and tables are spaced at least six feet apart.

As Kate said at the close of her show, music (and theater) is healing. And those of us who typically experience live music and/or theater as a part of our usual life, miss it greatly. We have quite a ways to go yet before those things return, but in the meantime, while the weather holds out, we can still go to the (outdoor, distanced, masked) cabaret.

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