Saturday, July 25, 2009

Come to the Cabaret, Old Chum!

Posted by Bruce Miller
Tonight’s the big night! Broadway Today, a cabaret benefiting the Richmond Theatre Artists Fund, opens in Barksdale’s living room tonight at 8. Tickets are still available, so by all means, COME!

When I say "living room," I mean the loft-like lobby of our intimate Willow Lawn theatre. Audience members will sit in comfortable chairs pulled up to our vintage tavern tables, enjoying some of Richmond’s finest musical theatre voices. The bar will be open throughout the evening, and a fun time will be had by all.

The program is a benefit for the Richmond Theatre Artists Fund. All of the performers are volunteering their time to raise funds for the endowment, which is administered by the Richmond Alliance of Professional Theatres and managed by the Community Foundation. Barksdale is contributing the space, cabaret license, etc., and the goal of the cabaret is to raise around $2,000, which will take the Theatre Artists Fund from its current corpus of approximately $22,000 much closer to the benchmark of $25,000, which we hope to reach prior to Christmas.

Broadway Today is masterminded by that most energized of impresarios—Billy Christopher Maupin. The guiding theme is this: from July through December 2009, Barksdale is running three (count ‘em) new American musicals, all of which originated in the 21st century. The three new shows are Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Empire, Souvenir at Hanover Tavern, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Willow Lawn.

Mr. Maupin has assembled stars from the casts of these three new musicals to sing other songs written in the last few years for today's Broadway. Nancy Crawley (actor photos appear in the order listed), Timothy Ford, Zak Resnick and Ali Thibodeau from the cast of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Audra Honaker from the cast of Spelling Bee, and special guest star Debra Wagoner from the cast of Souvenir will lead the audience on a whirlwind tour of these other 21st Century Broadway hits: Avenue Q, Curtains, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Spring Awakening, Urinetown, Wicked and more!

Maggie Marlin, Millie herself, was to have appeared in the cabaret, but due to last minute vocal strain, she has been replaced by Robin Harris Jones.

The program is conceived and directed by Mr. Maupin, with musical direction by Sandy Dacus and Paul Deiss.

The Richmond Theatre Artists Fund provides emergency relief to local actors, directors, designers and theatre artists and administrators in all disciplines when, through no fault of their own, accident or ill health places one of them in an untenable financial situation. Recent recipients have included Liz Marks, who was able to pay her mortgage during the final months of her life because of support from the Fund, and one of our leading directors who recently was able to avoid having his electricity turned off when the Fund covered his electric bills in the two months following his stroke.

There will be two performances: Sunday (tonight) at 8 and Monday (tomorrow) at 8. Only overflow seating remains for Monday evening’s performance, so why not come tonight. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15. Barksdale subscribers, students and RAPT Card holders can purchase tickets for only $10.

Hope to see you at the theatre!

--Bruce Miller

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