BY KYNSLIE OTTE (KOTTE@UNEWS.COM), ON JANUARY 16TH, 2012
The River’s Edge Theater’s beautiful under-the-radar venue in the River Market district downtown was the perfect setting for She&Her’s new monthly production, “Come to the Cabaret.”
Co-founded and run by couple Tiffany Garrison-Schweigert and Jennifer Coville-Schweigert, She&Her’s Sunday, Jan. 8 cabaret was absolutely delightful.
The theater setting was intimate, with a charming little bar, old brick walls and pleasant low-lighting that could almost be considered romantic. This setup was perfect for the events that took place; before the show even began, it was clear that I was in for a treat.
The “Her” of She&Her Productions, Garrison-Schweigert, emceed.
In the first performance, “I Don’t Do Sadness” from the musical “Spring Awakening,” John Cleary and Samantha Barboza proved to be a fantastic opening act. Cleary has an incredible falsetto, and Barboza has a voice big and bold enough for Broadway. The performance was best described by Garrison-Scweigert as “ridiculous.”
Married couple Jamie and Ken Koval’s rendition of “As Long As You’re Mine” from “Wicked” nearly made my heart melt. I’m a sucker for the musical anyway, but the couple’s harmonies at the end of the song sent chills up and down my spine.
The “She” of She&Her, Coville-Schweigert, sang “Adelaide’s Lament” from “Guys and Dolls” and nearly stole the show. She impersonated Adelaide so well that I felt as if I were watching “Guys and Dolls” rather than a compilation of musical numbers. Her performance was both hilarious and beautifully executed.
Cleary and Ken Koval sang another one of my favorite show tunes, “Agony” from the musical “Into the Woods,” in a way that was both comical and musically accurate. They even performed a small segment of the scene from the play just before they began.
As Katie Meador performed “A Summer in Ohio” from the musical “The Last Five Years,” I laughed so hard I nearly cried. She has a voice perfect for musical theater, and her performance was wonderfully theatrical.
Performances were also done from musicals such as “Parade,” “Funny Girl,” “Next to Normal” and “Rent,” among others.
A uniquely Kansas City company, She&Her hopes to gain traction as it turns three years old.
“After we got married in 2009, we discussed how it would be a lifetime dream to create a production company in KC that would allow local artists the opportunity to perform in quality productions in the downtown area, particularly for individuals that may have fallen short of professional companies that still have the drive to perform,” Garrison-Schweigert said.
Both Garrison-Schweigert and Coville-Schweigert studied theater in college, and Garrison-Schweigert has performed in the Kansas City area since moving here with her family.
She&Her will host this cabaret event on the second Sunday of every month. The next event is on Sunday, Feb. 12. There is a minimal donation fee of $5 at the door.
The couple plans to recruit additional performers in the following months. Interested parties can contact the couples at email@example.com.
She and Her Productions’s initial Cabaret Night featured an assortment of voices, all showcasing their vocal talents with self-selected songs performed on a naked stage with only a microphone and either piano or guitar accompaniment.
About a dozen performers graced the stage and performed a variety of songs from Broadway shows in a two hour evening of musical variety. Songs ranged from comic to tragic in this premier performance before a nearly sold out theater. Less than five seats remained open as the show began. With numbers like that, patrons need to arrive early to guarantee seats to the next Cabaret Night, Feb. 12. According to Tiffany Schweigert, Her of She and Her Productions, future monthly shows continue to fall on the second Sunday at 7:30p.m.
Being the initial performance and with only minimal rehearsal, fans enjoyed the new theater experience. Selections ranged from Guys and Dolls to Rent, Into the Woods, and Funny Girl to name a few of the featured performances. For those familiar with the shows, no set up of the song or character is needed, but for more obscure songs, the character and song need additional set up. Perhaps this is something that can be added as shows develop.
When performing a song lifted from a show, audiences need to know more than the name of the song and musical. Perhaps performers could give a short introduction to their song, state the situation of the character, and prepare the listeners for the performance.
For Funny Girl, something as simple as: A frustrated young Fanny Brice expresses her disgust that no one recognizes her talent. To set the tone for her biographical story, she sings, “I’m the Greatest Star.” This will allow all the audience to recognize the musical, the name of the song, and understand the motivation behind the song.
All in all, She and Her presented a great performance with fantastic voices and skilled piano and guitar accompaniments. The biggest problem will be limited seating for a one-night-only performance. Maybe the shows will grow and more performances can be added.