Molly Jo Hall Vocalizes her Love of Lyric Arts in the Cabaret Fundraiser

Headshot_MollyJoHall_135x135LA: What was the first show you were involved with at Lyric Arts and what was your role? MJH: My first show was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. I played: Wailing Girl, Mrs Potiphar, Apache Dancer (understudy), Egyptian, *dance captain and... Gad's Wife (I am now really marrying the man who played Gad!)

LA: What does Lyric Arts mean to you as a performer?

MJH: As an amateur actor, I get the opportunity to play roles at the professional level quality and in a fabulous theater with other actors in the same position.

LA: Best part about being in a show at Lyric Arts?

MJH: This sounds cheesy but because each run of a show is so long, similar to professional theaters, you truly become like a little family with the people involved. Because I have done quite a few shows here now and have begun to grow quite a large extended family. And I have so much respect for them. They're all hard workers with professional talent which makes performing so much more exciting and enjoyable.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their performance developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

MJH: I am always impressed with Nykeigh Larson, a little spit-fire! Quick learner and I don't know if I have seen her make a mistake! I also so appreciate Krista Kemp's tapping and positive attitude! She is a wonderful teacher! Kerry Fager, my dance partner is an incredibly gifted and I have not yet danced with someone with so much skill and poise, manly poise that is! What a wonderful performer. But Joe Rand, our fellow performer and choreographer is one of the greatest choreographers I have had the pleasure to work with. He is patient, focused, professional, funny and makes even inexperienced dancers appear brilliant and beautifully trained.

LA: Without giving too much away what do you feel are the "wow" elements of the Cabaret Fundraiser?

MJH: Joe Rand OUTDID himself with our choreography! I cannot wait for people to see some of our fun bets and I am also so exited for the brilliant vocals with the help Kristin Gates. It's really breathtaking.

LA: What three words best describe Lyric Arts?  

MJH: Quality. Educational. Enjoyable.

LA: What would be your dream show that you would love to see produced on the Main Street Stage?

MJH: WEST SIDE STORY!!! Or Mary Poppins

LA: What has been your favorite experience at Lyric Arts?

MJH: I love teaching workshops at Lyric Arts, helping the next generation develop a love for the same place I have grown to love. I also loved being apart of the production of Footloose directed by Matt McNabb. That show was incredible.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

MJH: I am 22 years old and a graduate of North Central University and an ordained Children's Pastor with a Minor in Theater. I am excited to be married to my once onstage husband, Ben Schrade! I am also excited to be teaching workshops all summer for Lyric Arts! My husband and I will be moving to Anoka Cabaret Opening Night!

Dancin' Man, Kerry Fager, is Struttin’' His Stuff for the Cabaret Fundraiser

Headshot_KerryFager_135x135Meet Kerry Fager, who is  performing  in  Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Shows We Can’t Afford to Produce. Read on to learn about what his favorite part of the Cabaret is and why he loves Lyric Arts so much. LA: What was the first show you were involved with at Lyric Arts and what was your role?

KF: I played Benjamin in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

LA: What does Lyric Arts mean to you as a performer?

KF: Lyric Arts feels like me home.  Because in essence I received my first role in the “outside” theatre world at Lyric Arts, I will always feel like I have a tie to it.

LA: Best part about being in a show at Lyric Arts?

KF: The intimate setting.  I have never performed in a venue like Lyric Arts.  Where else do you not have to worry about where your seat is because there is not a bad seat in the house?  And as a performer, it’s very exhilarating to feed off of audience energy when it’s so close to you while on the stage.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their performance developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

KF:With a much smaller group of performers than I’ve ever worked with in any musical, it’s been great getting to learn from them on a deeper level.  This cast is talented enough that an area of performing for a given individual that might not be a primary strength is still top-notch.  That being said, I don’t think there’s anything Tommy Benson isn’t good at.

LA: Without giving too much away what do you feel are the "wow" elements of the Cabaret Fundraiser? KF: The variety of the show.  You name it, we do it.  The musical numbers range from quintessential “showy” tunes, to gritty, authentic, heartfelt songs.  Plus the comedic element of our wonderful hosts gives you a break when you’re out of breath from watching all the dancing!

LA: What three words best describe Lyric Arts?

KF: Authentic, intimate style.

LA: What would be your dream show that you would love to see produced on the Main Street Stage?

KF: West Side Story!

LA: What has been your favorite experience at Lyric Arts?

KF: I think I would have to say this Cabaret Fundraiser.  Being surrounded by some of the most talented performers to hit the stage in recent years has helped me grow as a performer.  Also, the content of this year’s show is pretty tough to beat!

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

KF:I’m a dancer-turned-business-grad-turned-back-to-performer.  I have a full-time job in internet marketing, but like to shake things up a bit by performing onstage.  I have six siblings, and I just became an uncle for the first time – that’s quite exciting.

Meet Kristo Sween who is Performing in the Cabaret Fundraiser

Headshot_KristoSween_135x135Meet Kristo Sween, who is  performing  in  Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Shows We Can’t Afford to Produce. Read on to learn about what his favorite part of the Cabaret is and why he loves Lyric Arts so much. LA: What was the first show you were involved with at Lyric Arts and what was your role?

KS: I played Teddy in Arsenic and Old Lace in 2011. First play for me in 20 years. Lyric Arts was a great place for my “return to the stage.”

LA: What does Lyric Arts mean to you as a performer?

KS: Lyric Arts is a safe, supportive environment for performers to take risks and reach new heights.

LA: Best part about being in a show at Lyric Arts?

KS: Working in a top-notch facility with brilliant, creative cast and artistic staff. I feel like a pro when I’m working here.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their performance developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

KS: I’m amazed at the talent in all my young cast members. They’re keeping me on my toes!

LA: Without giving too much away what do you feel are the "wow" elements of the Cabaret Fundraiser?

KS: The choreography and dancing are going to wow for sure! I’ve heard some of the solos and duets. This is going to be a VERY impressive show.

LA: What three words best describe Lyric Arts? 

KS: Supportive. Awesome. Engaging.

LA: What would be your dream show that you would love to see produced on the Main Street Stage?

KS: Fiddler on the Roof.

LA: What has been your favorite experience at Lyric Arts?

KS: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the shows I’ve done at Lyric Arts, but my favorite experience was watching my daughter Hannah in two productions here. Her shows were my introduction to Lyric Arts and it was a joy to see her be so welcomed and supported.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

KS: I’m a husband, a father of 7 year old twins Austin and Henry, and 12 year old Hannah. I work as the Director of Business Development at a law firm in St. Paul. I’m chair of Lyric Arts Actors Council and serve on the board at my church. I’m a food truck addict and really need to brew some beer this summer.

Meet the Emcee, Anthony R. Johnson, for Cabaret Fundraiser

TonyJohnson_135x135Meet Anthony R. Johnson, who is the Emcee for  Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Shows We Can’t Afford to Produce. Read on to learn about what his favorite part of the Cabaret is and why he loves Lyric Arts so much. LA: What was the first show you were involved with at Lyric Arts and what was your role?

ARJ: I directed one-third of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite in 2009.

LA: What does Lyric Arts mean to you as a performer?

ARJ: Lyric Arts is such an incredible place because of the people you get to work with.  Working with so many extremely talented artist in such a professional setting has really challenged me to grow as a performer and a director.

LA: Best part about being in a show at Lyric Arts?

ARJ: The quality of what we are able to put on the stage. As both a performer and an audience member, I am always amazed at how great every Lyric Arts production is. And that’s because of the passion that all of the performers and staff bring to every show.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their performance developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

ARJ: The dancing. I have to left feet, so when I see all of these incredible dancers up there, some of whom have very little dance experience, I am in awe. They are working so hard to make everything look so easy.

LA: Without giving too much away what do you feel are the "wow" elements of the Cabaret Fundraiser?

ARJ: There are a couple of big musical numbers that will be unlike anything that’s been seen before on the Lyric Arts Stage.

LA: What three words best describe Lyric Arts?

ARJ: Inspiring, Enchanting, invigorating

LA: What would be your dream show that you would love to see produced on the Main Street Stage?

ARJ: I have always loved the musical Chess and I really think the raked seating at Lyric Arts would give you the opportunity to do something really unique and special with that show in that space.

LA: What has been your favorite experience at Lyric Arts?

ARJ: Emceeing the Cabaret for the last few years has been a blast, but working with Scott Ford on Doubt in 2009 was one of the most meaningful artistic experiences I have ever had.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

ARJ: By day I write jokes and make games for the backs of cereal boxes, by night I make jokes and play games with my two adorable daughters and every once and awhile I get the chance to take on the role of “actor”…but mostly I just like hanging out with my kids.

Why Do YOU Support Lyric Arts?

We asked the cast and artistic staff of the Cabaret Fundraiser why do they support Lyric Arts and here is what they had to say.

Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Musical We Can’t Afford to Produce performs May 10 and 11. Doors open at 6:00pm, giving patrons time to peruse the silent auction, play games, and enjoy the festivities. At 7:30pm, the curtains open on the Broadway themed show itself. Tickets for Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Musical We Can’t Afford to Produce start at $50 and are $60 for Box Seats and Table Seating.  For complete ticket pricing information call the Box Office at 763-422-1838 or visit www.lyricarts.org.

Kristin Gates is Tickling the Ivories for Cabaret

gates_k135x135Meet Kristin Gates, who is the Music Director for  Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Shows We Can’t Afford to Produce. Read on to learn about what her favorite part of the Cabaret is and why she loves Lyric Arts so much. LA: What was the first show you were involved with at Lyric Arts and what was your role?

KG: My first show with Lyric Arts was All Shook Up!  In the summer of 2010.  It was a crazy ride as I was hired quite late in the show’s production, but it was a fantastic experience!

LA: What does Lyric Arts mean to you as a performer?

KG: Lyric Arts is a great place for me to keep up my skills on the piano and to work with some extremely talented vocalists and musicians.  It’s such a pleasure to sit down, play through a song with a vocalist, and to have them sound just incredible on the first run! 

LA: Best part about being in a show at Lyric Arts?

KG: I love being in shows at Lyric because everyone is so supportive of each other.  Theaters can be very competitive places, but here at Lyric, I most see people who are supportive and truly care for their fellow cast members. 

LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their performance developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

KG: This will be my second year playing keyboards with “The Off Off Broadway Band” and I couldn’t ask for a better group of musicians to make music with.  I can’t wait to hear what they’ll bring to the performance when we put the vocalists with them! 

LA: Without giving too much away what do you feel are the "wow" elements of the Cabaret Fundraiser?

KG: Sea shells, “relentlessly cheerful” folks, socks, and….well, you’ll just have to see what I’m talking about!

LA: What three words best describe Lyric Arts? 

KG: Experience. Family. Quality.

LA: What would be your dream show that you would love to see produced on the Main Street Stage?

KG: Beauty and the Beast  or West Side Story.  The music for these shows are out of this world and I would LOVE to be a part of either of them!

LA: What has been your favorite experience at Lyric Arts?

KG: It’s so hard to pick, but I have loved working with some of the best talent Lyric has to offer at the last three Cabaret Fundraisers.  Walking into a room full of some of the most talented people that have worked at the theater is pretty inspiring and exciting.  Also, I have worked with some WONDERFUL instrumentalists who give their time and talents to Lyric’s productions.  They make Lyric’s musicals happen!

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

KG: I’m a music educator and free-lance horn player who will be leaving the great state of Minnesota this August to pursue a Doctorate in Musical Arts in Horn Performance!  Wherever the winds take me when I’m finished, I can only hope to find myself back here, near to the theater that pushed me as a musician and educator and helped me make some fantastic music!  In my non-theater, non-musical life, I enjoy reading, cooking and eating, and all things science fiction and fantasy!

Cabaret: Krista Kemp Gives us the Inside Scoop

Headshot_KristaKemp_135x135Meet Krista Kemp, who is performing in Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Shows We Can't Afford to Produce. Read on to learn about what her favorite part of the Cabaret is and why she loves Lyric Arts so much. LA: What was the first show you were involved with at Lyric Arts and what was your role?

KK: My very first show with Lyric was My Fair Lady and I was in the chorus- still one of my favorite theater experiences to date- such a talented and fun cast and production crew to work with!

LA: What does Lyric Arts mean to you as a performer?

KK: My family currently lives (and plan on staying) in the north-western suburbs so having such a quality community theater close to my home with SO MANY opportunities is pretty priceless- not just as a performer but also as an audience member. 

LA: Best part about being in a show at Lyric Arts?

KK: I would say the people/atmosphere- even if it does sound a little cheesy!  I think Lyric is the perfect combination of people wanting to be a part of something fantastic, but also have a great time- the cast learns their material, the production crew builds beautiful sets/ lights/ costumes/ staging/ dances, etc, and the staff packs the house- but we all have a grand old time doing it!

LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their performance developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

KK: So many great talents in this production- and the most fun is that I only knew a few people before we started.  I would say that everyone is doing a bang up job of learning the songs and dances- it’s hard to choose a stand out but I’m really looking forward to watching Molly Jo Hall and Kerry Fager perform their numbers.  And Laura Bidgood’s script?!?- well that’s just magic right there!

LA: Without giving too much away what do you feel are the "wow" elements of the Cabaret Fundraiser?

KK: So many!  So many secrets!  I think the combination of songs and the hilarious script really make for a treat of a night out.  I think the audience will be blown away by all the dancing- I can’t even believe we’re capable of all of the moves Joe Rand has somehow convinced us to do!

LA: What three words best describe Lyric Arts?

KK: Exciting, Quality, Classy

LA: What would be your dream show that you would love to see produced on the Main Street Stage?

KK: Chicago!!! (Please!!!)

LA: What has been your favorite experience at Lyric Arts?

KK: Two winter shows ago, I was lucky enough to be a part of the wonderful cast of ‘White Christmas’ and it really was a dream for me- I grew up loving the movie, then fell in LOVE with the stage version, and was so honored to be a part of it with such wonderful people.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

KK: My wonderful husband and I are new parents to our beautiful daughter Kate- still trying to figure it all out- so that takes up most of our time these days.  We love to travel and visit family and friends as often as we can.  By day, I work as a paralegal with a family law firm in Minneapolis.

It's the Cabaret Fundraiser Press Release!

Lyric Arts Main Street Stage will be transformed into “The Great White Way” for their 14th Annual Cabaret Fundraiser, Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Musicals We Can’t Afford to Produce on May 10 and 11.Cabaret2013_Logo Following the smashing success of last year’s Broadway Salute, Lyric Arts has taken it to the “next level” with a sequel, Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Musicals We Can’t Afford to Produce. Lyric Arts will bring you up close to your favorite Broadway shows like Book of Mormon, Avenue Q, and Les Miserables. Not only will this year’s Cabaret spotlight some well-loved Broadway show tunes, it will feature some of Lyric Arts’ favorite players! Lyric Arts is thrilled to have some of the best and brightest performers that that have graced the Main Street Stage in the past year to return to help us bring this wonderful fundraiser to life!

The “Cabaret,Lyric Arts Cabaret 1” as it has come to be known, is the only annual fundraising event benefiting Lyric Arts Company of Anoka, a 501(c)(3) non-profit theater.  The fundraiser is a chance for the community to show their support of Lyric Arts, while at the same time enjoying some of the theater’s excellent entertainment. Managing Artistic Director, Laura Tahja Johnson commented, “Lyric Arts is such a unique place for artists and audiences alike. It truly is a home for the arts in the North Metro. But it's more than that. It's a family of actors, directors, artists, and audience members sharing the magic of live theater year round. There is no place like Lyric Arts anywhere in the world and something this special needs to be supported and nurtured.”

The fundraiser helps to support the many programs Lyric Arts offers to the community throughout the year. Director of the Cabaret, Rebecca Rizzio added “Lyric Arts stands poised for new heights. With you, our audience and supporters firmly standing by, we continue the journey.” In addition to stage performances, Lyric Arts offers productions just for children, educational outreach programs, workshops, and intimate live music events as part of their “Music in the ‘Burbs” Concert Series.  

Tickets to Lyric Arts’ only fundraiser of the year include bottomless beverages, delicious appetizers from a variety of local vendors, including Marna’s Catering, and scrumptious desserts from Truffles and Tortes. Each year, the silent auction is packed with gift baskets and other items donated by local businesses, area performing arts organizations, and other Lyric Arts’ supporters. Some auction items sure to grab your attention include wine baskets, artwork, jewelry, and weekend getaways.

Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Musical We Can’t Afford to Produce performs May 10 and 11. Doors open at 6:00pm, giving patrons time to peruse the silent auction, play games, and enjoy the festivities. At 7:30pm, the curtains open on the Broadway themed show itself. Tickets for Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Musical We Can’t Afford to Produce start at $50 and are $60 for Box Seats and Table Seating.  For coLyric Arts Cabaret 3mplete ticket pricing information call the Box Office at 763-422-1838 or visit www.lyricarts.org. 

Located in the heart of historic downtown Anoka, Lyric Arts Main Street Stage offers a full season of live theater and intimate live music events as part of their “Music in the ‘Burbs” Concert Series. Enjoy big city theater with hometown charm at the only full-time, year-round theatre in the northern metropolitan area. Founded in 1995 and relocated to Anoka’s Main Street in 2001, Lyric Arts’ mission is to build community, inspire audiences, and nurture artists using the transformative power of the performing arts. The 501(c)(3) non-profit theater accomplishes this mission through year-round performances, theater workshops, and education outreach programs.

We've got the inside scoop on the Cabaret theme!

We just got the inside scoop from Cabaret Fundraiser Director, Rebecca Rizzio. And we couldn't wait to share all the bCabaret2013_Logoehind the scenes detail with you! Of course by now, everyone knows that the theme is Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Musicals We Can't Afford to Produce, but Rebecca shared why this theme is so exciting. Lyric Arts: Sometimes people feel a little trepidation about a sequel. What do you think?

Headshot_BeckyRizzio_135x135Rebecca Rizzio: A lot of people think, "The sequel. Never as good as the original." That is until now....

LA: Can you tell us anything about the vision for this year's performance?

RR: The vision, well, it's a thrill to be bringing last season's creative team back for this season's Cabaret.  This year we are growing much the same way that Lyric Arts is growing.  You won't see the flash of last year's familiar, most well-known Broadway musicals. Instead, this year, we are bringing to the stage some less recognizable but equally powerful, rock solid numbers. Lyric Arts is on her way to places she has never been. So, come along with us.....It's going to be a most inspiring ride.

LA: What else can you tell us about the theme for the fundraiser?

RR: We will need a new theme for next year's cabaret because we are running out of shows we can't afford to produce.....Thanks to YOU! Last year's closer, "Seasons of Love" is actually going to officially be a part of next season. Dreams do come true...

 

Exclusive Interview with Cabaret Fundraiser Playwright!

We recently had a chance to sit down with our very own Cabaret Fundraiser playwright, Laura Bidgood. This year's theme is Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Musicals We Can't Afford to Produce. Laura gave us the inside scoop on this year's show. The excitement here is palpable! LA: You’ve written a few of these scripts now, how do you keep it interesting to yourself and the audience?

LB: It's easy to keep it interesting because every year we have a slightly different theme and a different group of performers which makes it a fun challenge to tackle.  Every script seems to have it's own personality that comes through as it is being written. I also keep it interesting by challenging myself to try and top what I wrote the year before.

LA: Is it hard to write a sequel?

LB: This is the first time I have ever written a sequel and I didn't want to fall into the trap of the "sequel curse" like we have seen with such movies as Ghostbusters 2, Speed 2 and the Scream movies 2 through 6. So honestly, it's been a little difficult, but I love a good challenge and I think this year is going to be even better than last year!

LA: What’s the hardest part about writing the Cabaret script?

LB: The hardest part for me in the writing process is just getting started. It's just that initial work of researching and deciding and then honing in on the central theme, idea and feel of the show that I find difficult. There are so many fun angles and directions a show can take that I get so excited, that I want to incorporate them all! Taking a step back and focusing my vision for the show takes the most time. I spend a lot of hours thinking about a script and planning it out before I actually get down to writing it. Once the actual writing takes places it goes along pretty easy and that's when the real fun begins!

LA: So what is new and fun?

LB: We have an exciting new cast for this year! A solid line up of some of Broadway's biggest hits that we cannot possibly afford to produce...yet and some of the funniest dialogue I've ever written!

LA: Any teasers? A mystery to be on the watch for?

I can't really give anything away, you'll have to make sure you get a ticket for the cabaret, but I will say that the audience will have a chance this year to get in on the action on stage and play a critical part in how the show shapes up!