Bloomington's Professional Theater Company

Bloomington's Professional Theater Company

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HT: Cabaret’s intimacy to flow from Cardinal Stage performers

March 17, 2021


Cabaret performer Maggie Lynn HeldCardinal Stage is preparing its virtual cabaret show, “Swing into Spring,” available as a livestream Friday and Saturday. It’s part of the proof that social distancing might discourage us but it cannot deprive us of theater.


Unlike much regular theater, cabaret is intimate, with performers not only breaking the fourth wall, but stopping between numbers to chat about themselves or get to know the audience.


Maggie Lynn Held, a cabaret veteran, is relishing the filming aspect of Cardinal’s cabaret, different from in-person cabarets she has done previously.


“Many of my friends do cabaret,” she said in an email. “My favorite is one of my dear friends Kathy France, who has a MAC Award for her cabaret performance.”


A singer-dancer, Held has spent much of her time enhancing theme parks and cruise ships. In cabaret, she particularly enjoys breaking that fourth wall, an activity uncomfortable for many.


“I love to engage with people in everyday life, and I feel like engaging with the audience is similar to telling the checkout lady you like her hair.”


Held, who founded Scribfolio, a company that encourages people to gaze at scribbles and turn them into sketches, has considered writing a cabaret show.


“A cabaret bar would be such an amazing addition to Bloomington.”


Michelle Zink-Muñoz, having performed in several cabarets in New York City, enjoys the genre’s ability to connect artists.


“One of my favorite cabaret performers is actually someone I got to perform with at The West End, one of the popular cabaret spaces in (Manhattan),” she said.


Zink-Muñoz lives in New York City and thus missed getting together with her Cardinal colleagues for this show, rehearsing over Zoom and filming in her apartment. One of her songs is a duet of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” with Sean Puent, who sang his lines from a distance of 800 miles.


For Shannon O’Connor Starks, it’s that intimacy with the audience that draws her to the cabaret scene.


“Of course, for this cabaret, we were playing to empty chairs or directly to the camera,” she said.


As a group adhering to pandemic protocol, the cast didn’t meet in person, but management conducted individual coaching sessions on Zoom.


“On the day of the recording, we had a one-hour slot, and I only crossed paths with the performer just before and after me.”


Eric Shelley noticed the differences in the rehearsal process as a result of COVID-19 precautions.


“Zoom rehearsals using tracks and navigating a recording studio app has been new territory,” he said.


The spring cabaret, one of Cardinal’s three-part series, offers a range of ages and experience, and the show is geared toward the mature audience. Shelley will perform “Moondance” and a duet of “That’s Life” with Cole Winston.