Add the 15th Annual Cabaret Fundraiser to your Calendar!

On May 9 and 10, 2014, the Lyric Arts Main Street Stage will once again be transformed for their annual Cabaret Fundraiser. This year marks the 15th anniversary of this fun-filled event, where guests are treated to hors d’oeuvres and beverages, games, raffles, a silent auction, and a fantastic variety show! Following past years’ successful themed shows, “Broadway Salute,” and “Another Lyric Arts Salute to Broadway Musicals we Can’t Afford to Produce,” this year’s show will be more loosely themed, comprised of hit songs and dream roles that the actors have always wanted to perform. You’ll hear selections from your favorite Broadway shows, as well as numbers from classic musical movies and more! This year, the show will bring all your favorite Lyric Arts performers together and give them a chance to do what they love – put on a spectacular show full of numbers they’ve always dreamed of performing on stage, and all for a great cause!

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The “Cabaret,” 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. This two-day 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 high quality entertainment. Managing Artistic Director, Laura Tahja Johnson commented, “I am amazed by Lyric Arts tremendous growth and how, almost 20 years later, Lyric Arts continues to grow. That growth is due, in no small part, to the astounding support we receive from this generous community.”

The fundraiser helps to support the many programs Lyric Arts offers to the community throughout the year. In addition to a full season of stage performances, Lyric Arts offers productions just for children, educational outreach programs, year-round theater education workshops, and intimate live music events as part of their “Music in the ‘Burbs” Concert Series. This year’s motto throughout the theater is ‘keep up the good work,’ as Lyric Arts strives to keep expanding and pushing their limits as an organization, bringing bigger and better shows to the stage in the same high quality fashion that their audiences have come to expect.

Tickets to Lyric Arts’ only fundraiser of the year include bottomless beverages, delicious hors d’oeuvres and appetizers from a variety of local vendors, and scrumptious desserts. 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 get bidding attention include wine baskets, artwork, fine jewelry, and weekend getaways.

Doors open for the 15th Annual Cabaret Fundraiser at 6:00pm on May 9th and 10th, giving guests time to peruse the silent auction, play games, and enjoy the festivities. At 7:30pm, the curtains open on the stage. Tickets for this one-of-a-kind experience start at $50, or $60 for Box Seats and Table Seating.  For complete ticket pricing information call the Box Office at 763-422-1838 or visit the Cabaret web page

Review: Come to the Cabaret

Come to the Cabaret!

By Pat Dowdell

Entering the theater doors, I slipped from the present to the past, landing in the Kit Kat Klub, one of the many 1930’s cabarets in Berlin.  As I took my seat, I was greeted by cast members in period costumes, acting out their roles as German cabaret performers.  This clever, whimsical banter set the tone for a great performance and united the actors with the audience.  It is the epitome of creative and directing perfection!

The stage itself is the largest and most ambitious ever designed (design by Brian J. Proball), complete with 2 tiers above the stage floor, the top tier housing the 9 piece, expertly directed (by Andy Kust) cabaret band.  It is precisely detailed with nothing left to the imagination.  The designers and construction staff spared no expense, time, or effort to make this the grandest stage I’ve ever seen at Lyric Arts.

Each of the 20 cast members made us feel like we were a part of the cabaret audience itself.  Director Matt McNabb has chosen this strong cast so perfectly that their movement, lines, and vocals were deliciously served up for our enjoyment while telling the story of life in Berlin and the changes to come.  It is cleverly choreographed (by Jon Stiff) around the complex stage with expert sound (by Jeff Geisler) and lighting (by Dan Thorson), punctuating every movement seamlessly and guided the audience’s attention.  The costumes (by Lisa Mangone) were authentically designed, bringing reality and acceptance to this uninhibited, flamboyant gay community as it existed in Berlin.

The beginning of the play was filled with fun, excitement and frivolity.  By the end of the first act and throughout the second act, we see the beginning effects of Hitler’s forthcoming power and we become one with the cabaret performers.  We feel the change and the pain that begins to negatively affect them and the German community at large.  We see lives destroyed and witness a finale that is so poignant and stunning, the audience made not a sound but sat quietly, absorbing the devastation just witnessed. Coupled with this is our knowledge of how much worse life would become in the years to follow, not just in Germany but throughout the world.  My tears and sadness were for a generation that would forever be changed through misguided force.

In the end, the standing ovation to the actors and the director was the highest compliment an audience can give, acknowledging the power of this play as it relates to our inner most sense of decency and humanity.

To say that Cabaret is a musical understates it’s power. It is tremendously exhilarating, thought provoking and emotionally driven. It is a tribute to the fragile, diverse, complex and ever-changing fabric of human life.

A Little Bit About Pat: Pat is a native Anoka resident and a recently retired teacher.  Pat taught at Anoka High School for 25 years.  In her spare time, Pat volunteers at Lyric Arts doing a variety of jobs.

Evolution of a Set for Cabaret: Day 17

Well, here we are on opening night of Cabaret. It has been a long build for this show. Patrick and his crew have done an amazing job building this set. Without the vision and design of Brian J. Proball this set would not be  feasible. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped make this set come to life. Now all you have to do is get a ticket and see this fantastic show. Come to the Cabaret July 13-August 5.

Evolution of a Set for Cabaret: Day 16

It is all about the details today! Patrick is busy making sure everything is done for Friday. The staple gun is his best friend. He has been putting up black masking all day to make sure audience members cannot see behind the stage. Remember all the curtains have been taken down for Cabaret. Make sure to get your tickets today to come and see Cabaret, it is running July 13-August 5.

Debbie Swanson Invites You to "Cabaret"

I’m Debbie Swanson from the Board of Directors here at Lyric Arts Main Street Stage and I’d like to take a minute to tell you why I love our upcoming show Cabaret so much… First off, I really like musical theater.  The idea of moving a story forward, of expressing emotion through songs or dancing really speaks to me. And in particular, I’m drawn to musicals that have history. The stage show Cabaret is almost as old as I am! It won the Tony for Best Musical in 1967 and for Best Musical Revival in 1998. The music is by songwriters  Kander and Ebb—you may have heard of another little musical they wrote called Chicago. And one of their signatures is that they write old-fashioned Broadway style tunes for completely unconventional, morally and emotionally complex situations. And it is in that incongruity that you get energy…you get power.

Second, I really like the story of Cabaret. Cabaret is as relevant today as it was when it opened in 1966. We are surrounded with political propaganda from all sides this year…things haven’t really changed on that front much since 1929 Germany. Cabaret tells a story that parallels our contemporary problems. It’s only compelling, only shocking, only powerful because we can see today at least some of what the character Cliff could see back then.

As you see the story in Cabaret unfold, you’ll start identifying with the characters. Sometimes you feel like Sally Bowles, who sticks her head in the sand and refuses to believe there is a problem. Other times you’ll identify with Herr Schultz who believes so completely in the goodness of humanity that he can’t see what is happening right in front of him or Fraulein Schneider, who truly thinks she has no power to change anything.

The story, the music of Cabaret is meant to entertain, yes. But it is also to make the audience uncomfortable. We want to see ourselves in Cliff—he is the only character that sees what is happening and refuses to accept it. But in reality most of us are really more like one of the other characters. My barometer of a good musical is that I either want to leave the theater humming a tune or mulling over the story and its meaning. I guarantee--this show will have you doing both.

Third, and the most important, I really like Lyric Arts. This theater just keeps getting better and better over the years. This production of Cabaret has a first rate set, fabulous costuming, innovative and creative staging, light design and music direction and a truly talented cast of actors. It really is the frosting on the cake for our final show this season. On behalf of the Board of Directors for Lyric Arts, I invite you to Cabaret running from July 13th through August 5th. I hope to see you there!

Evolution of a Set for Cabaret: Day 15

Today more detail work is being done on the set. The mirrors have been hung on the stage and the carpet on the spiral stairs has been covered up in black. Also Patrick and his crew have been busy doing work on a special project that can only be seen during the the show. I will give you clue...it drops in and has an eagle on it. You have to come and see Cabaret to fully understand this magical effect of theater. You also may notice that some very important monsters are missing. Patrick took down our Halloween monsters that have been gracing each photo.

Meet Christy Nix, who is Performing in Cabaret

Meet Christy Nix, who is performing in the Ensemble for Cabaret, who was last seen in Pinkalicious the Musical as Pinkalicious on the Main Street Stage. Read on to see what she thinks of how rehearsals are going so far! LA: Where are you originally from? CN: Dannebrog, Nebraska – the “Danish Capital of Nebraska LA: Why did this particular play interest you? CN: Well, I love the music. Overall, it’s a very gritty and unapologetically stark. It has humor and romance, but nothing is sugar-coated.

LA: For those that are unfamiliar with Cabaret can you tell us about the show? CN: It’s about a young American man that goes to Berlin in the late 1930’s to write a novel. Upon arriving, he discovers the Kit Kat Klub and forms a relationship with one of the performers, Sally Bowles. As the politcal climate declines in Germany with the rise of the Nazi party, we see the parallel decline of the characters, their relationships, and the Kit Kat Klub.

LA: Talk about the character(s) that you play in Cabaret. How have you developed this character? CN: I’m in the ensemble, which gives me an abundance of freedom to create my character because I don’t really have any preexisting characteristics in the script. I primarily play a patron or a waitress in the Klub.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at? CN: The cast is AMAZING! Every rehearsal I’ve been to I’ve seen the songs, dancing, and character development get stronger. Max, who is playing the MC, is fantastic! Katie, playing Sally, is delightful and heart-wrenching. Everyone, though, is so wonderful!

LA: What are some of the most impressive elements of Cabaret? CN: All of the musical numbers in the show are great, but I think the final song in Act 1 is particularly powerful. I also really love “Maybe This Time” – Katie really knocks that one out of the park.

LA: What is your favorite number of the show? CN: I LOVE "Two Ladies"!

LA: What is something you are particularly excited about for this show? For example, a certain scene, costumes, set, lights, etc? CN: I’ve very excited to see the set once it’s completed. From what we’ve been told and what we’ve seen so far it’s going to be fantastic and totally transform the theatre! I can’t wait!

LA: Are musicals easy or harder to act than other types of theater? Why is this? CN: I think musicals are much harder! But I love them, so I don’t mind. I’ve done a lot straight shows, but I’ve just recently started doing musicals. It’s been an adjustment, but a welcomed one. I feel like singing is one of the most vulnerable forms of performance, so I really have to push myself to sing in front of people.

What is your favorite musical (in theater) to watch?  Oh my word, just one? I love Phantom of the Opera, and I recently saw American Idiot and really enjoyed that.

LA: Do you have a favorite theatrical actor that you like to see on stage, either local or national? Why do you like to watch this person on stage? CN: Locally, I really enjoy watching Lauren Anderson perform at the Brave New Workshop. She is a fantastic improviser, really funny. The range of characters she can play is amazing, and often she’s just making it up on the spot and yet they are so specific with their own ticks and peculiarities. Nationally, I love Kristen Chenoweth. She is so delightful and full of energy. If I could model a musical theatre career after anyone, it would probably be hers.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself? CN: I grew up on Nebraska, went to college in Michigan, and then moved to Minnesota. I’ve lived here for about 6 years with my husband and our little dog Willow. I love theatre and participate in it as much as possible. I also enjoy graphic design, running, watching movies, and not cooking.

LA: What was the first musical you ever saw on stage? CN: The first musical I ever saw on stage was Bye Bye Birdie. It was at my cousin’s middle school in Plymouth, and he was playing Birdie. My whole family drove up from Nebraska to see it. I was ten or eleven, and I was hooked – it was awesome.

Evolution of a Set for Cabaret: Day 14

Well, here we are 4 more days until we open Cabaret. The cast, crew, and orchestra had a long, but productive weekend working on scene transitions and making sure tech was getting enough time to work out the kinks. Patrick and his crew are still painting things black today. Patrick is also working making magic happen with the doors and the curtains. You will have to come to the show to see what I mean. This week is really dedicated to putting all the finishing touches on the set and making sure everything looks perfect for you, our cabaret guests!

Meet Kristo Sween, who is Performing in Cabaret

Meet Kristo Sween, who is performing as Herr Schultz in Cabaret, and who happens to be on the Actors Council at  Lyric Arts! Read on to see what he thinks of how rehearsals are going so far!

Where are you originally from? I was born in Platteville, WI. Moved to Red Wing, MN when I was 10.

Why did this particular play interest you? Cabaret is a bucket list musical for me. I love the way the club performances are mixed with the other songs throughout the show. Sometimes flowing, sometimes contrasting. This is an incredibly entertaining show.

For those that are unfamiliar with Cabaret can you tell us about the show? An American author travels to Berlin in the 1930s to write his next novel, and takes a room in a bohemian district called the Nollendorfplatz. He is quickly swept into the turbulent lives of the district’s inhabitants.

Talk about the character(s) that you play in Cabaret. How have you developed this character? I play Herr Schultz, the Jewish fruit grocer. He’s an optimist who is led by his heart in everything he does. His motivations are pure, honest and faithful. If I’m doing my job well, I’ll bring the audience along with me, even though we all know that the outlook for Jews in 1930’s Germany leaves little room for optimism.

Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at? First of all, I am amazed by the singing and dancing abilities of my castmates. Enormous pile of talent here.

What are some of the most impressive elements of Cabaret? For the audience, watching and getting involved in the parallel romantic relationships between Cliff and Sally, and Herr Schultz and Fraulein Schneider. The contrasting elements of those relationships flesh out the show for me.

What is your favorite number of the show? The music, choreography and execution of the Money Song just knocks me out. And scares me a little!

What is something you are particularly excited about for this show? For example, a certain scene, costumes, set, lights, etc? The set is astonishing!

Are musicals easy or harder to act than other types of theater? Why is this? Musicals are more work but can ultimately draw more depth of character from the actors because the singing takes it to another level entirely. You’re given more to work with. Transitioning from dialog to song, without losing or changing your emotional expression is a challenge, but very rewarding when you nail it!

What is your favorite musical (in theater) to watch?  I have to admit I haven’t been a huge fan of musical theater… UNTIL NOW! Of the musicals I’ve seen or performed in, I’ve got to say West Side Story still does the most for me.

Do you have a favorite theatrical actor that you like to see on stage, either local or national? Why do you like to watch this person on stage? Has everyone already said Neil Patrick Harris? He’s a genius.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself? I’m the father of an 11yo singer/actor/dancer named Hannah and 2 6yo boys, Austin and Henry. They sing and dance too. Might just have to put on a show! I’m married and work as the Director of Business Development for a downtown St. Paul litigation law firm. I’m a board member and chair of Marketing and PR for the Minnesota Grape Growers Association, I serve on the Vestry (Leadership team) of my church and I am the newly elected chair of the Lyric Arts Actors Council. In my spare time I sing lead vocals in a rock, blues, r&b cover band called The Wreck.

What was the first musical you ever saw on stage? The Sound of Music sometime around 1970.

Evolution of a Set for Cabaret: Day 13

Many things are happening in the theater today. Patrick and his crew are about to hang the Kit Kat Klub sign and they are finishing the grid platforms. Dan and his crew are busy hanging lights and putting in all the color gels to really make the stage come to life. This weekend we begin all the technical rehearsals. This is where lights, sounds, costumes, set, and cast  work together to make sure that the show is ready for all the dress rehearsals next week. Lots is happening to get this show ready for you, the audience to enjoy it...do have your tickets yet?