For those challenged by the start of the work week, Chicago Cabaret Professionals offers some help: Musical Mondays. CCP kicked off the first of its four Monday night events on March 6th at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater with MY KIND OF TUNE – a tribute to Chicago songwriters.
Opening with Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans,” the ten cabaret artists on stage reminded us that the memory of this hometown Grammy-winner lives on. The opener also reassured the audience – mostly a generation that first heard “City of New Orleans” as a fresh radio hit – that it would not have to struggle to catch the lyrics.
Chicago Cabaret Professionals let words reign supreme
Cabaret is a genre where words, not sound systems, reign supreme. There were some awkward, under-rehearsed moments in the show directed by Hilary Ann Feldman. But every single number – be it “Miracles of Miracles” from the ubiquitous FIDDLER ON THE ROOF or Elizabeth Doyle’s lovely “Blame It On the Moon” – got the respect and clarity that it deserved. Doyle also served as the evening’s musical director and accompanist.
It was easy to visualize each food item in Cheryl Coons and Michael Duff’s lament for dieters, “What We Really Want.” Newcomer Morgan Ray, an undergraduate at Columbia College, painted pictures with “Up on the Fridge” from DEAR EDWINA by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich. As sung by Cheryl Coons, the licks of four-legged Fred in Susan Werner’s “Dog” felt wet. And disgusting: “You smooched your pooch” right on the kisser even though canines “eat crap they find in the grass.”
MY KIND OF TUNE offers tasty morsels of trivia
For music trivia lovers, the evening provided some tasty morsels of Chicago lore. Both Nat King Cole and “King of Soul” Sam Cooke attended Wendell Phillips Academy High School a few years apart. And FIDDLER ON THE ROOF lyricist Sheldon Harnick attended Carl Schurz High School. With public schools under siege by the Department of Education’s new head, it’s a fine time to honor the musical game-changers who emerged from our local system.
Chicago Cabaret Professionals chose numbers spanning many moods and styles. But helping us all past Monday blues, they sent us into the rest of our week full of joy with Steve Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go.” In our kind of town with our kind of tunes, let the music play on.
About the Author
Susan Lieberman is a playwright, journalist and script consultant who commits most of her waking hours to Chicago theatre. Her Jeff-winning play Arrangement for Two Violas will be published by Chicago Dramaworks in spring 2017.