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Beautiful Night? Sing About It!

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “A Grand Night For Singing” has come to Sacramento!  Rodgers and Hammerstein, for those that don’t know, are the creators of a series of hit Broadway musicals, such as Cinderella, The Sound of Music, and South Pacific.  Though the two have passed away, they have left in their shadow delightful productions that will indulge audiences for a long time to come.  “A Grand Night For Singing” is a collection of songs from a variety of their plays, strung together in one night for the audience’s enjoyment.  There will be shows of it taking place at the Cosmopolitan Cabaret, with Mindy Cooper as the director.

The Cosmopolitan Cabaret is a theater attached to a beautiful little restaurant known as the Cosmo Cafe.  Here, you can order a drink or a snack, before heading into the theater, where the real magic begins.  Inside the Cabaret you can order drinks or appetizers, which are brought to you by a waiter.  The front of the theater has over a dozen tables, each able to hold four people, situated right next to the stage.  Further back, there are seven rows of seats that, though without a table, have a counter for you to place your drinks at.  I was able to admire the production from one of the tables in the front and having brought a guest with me, I was able to meet the acquaintance of a lovely couple, Rose and Tom, to enjoy the show with me.

The halls of the Cosmo Cafe

“A Grand Night for Singing” starts off like any production, with the lights slowly dimming, silencing the audience.  The mood of the room is set by soothing lights illuminating the stage.  A soft echo starts up as disembodied voices reach the ears of the audience; the five actors in the play step forward, serenading the observers with a welcoming song about how grand a night it is for singing.

The lighting of the entire performance was quite good, the multicolored lights reflected the atmosphere of each individual song performed.  If the music becomes quiet and somber, the lighting shifts to a lighter, softer blue, but as the songs pick up, the lights heat up, turning into a scorching red.  The lights are complimented by music the pianist dishes out. Speaking of the Pianist, Chris Schlagel was on top of his game, moving from the slow tune of “Some Enchanted Evening” to the fast paced “Honey Bun”, complimenting the actors.

From left to right: Melissa WolfKlain, Lisa Ferris and Jill Van Velzer

The introduction was slow and each actor seemed to present very little personality, but it was just a front.  As the play picked up, each singer showcased their individual talents.  Jill Van Velzer and Lisa Ferris’s rendition of the Step-Sister’s lament was quite spectacularly.  The two were energetic and portrayed the wicked stepsisters of Cinderella quite endearingly.  Ryan Drummond and Justin Michael Duval’s performance of “Don’t Marry Me” was a side-splitting experience; as they performed the piece, the whole theater was laughing with them.  And last, but most certainly not least, Melissa Wolfklain performed spectacularly through the play, but her rendition of “I’m In Love With a Wonderful Guy” was utterly moving.

From left: Chris Schlagel (Pianist), Ryan Drummond, Justin Michael Duval

But even more than their individual abilities, the five of them came together well.  They were harmonious in their singing and dancing, even allowing the pianist to get in on some of the action.  Each of them showcased their own individual presences in the performance and even when they weren’t performing a song and dance routine, the performers entertained the audience with antics and jokes as they transitioned to the next song.

The song, Honey Bun, holds a lot of sentimental value to me, as I was a part of my high school’s production of South Pacific, and that song was one that rung through the entire cast constantly, so seeing it in the lineup of “A Grand Night for Singing”, I wondered how the artists would treat a song so close to my heart.  I can happily say that they did a inspiring job of it!  The energy they put into the performance was high and I felt myself taken back years to my friends back in high school dancing to the tune of Honey Bun.  Fantastic.

At the end of the show, I asked the couple next to me what they thought of the performance, to which Rose and Tom both said that they enjoyed the show very much.  Rose even goes on to say that she isn’t much of a musical person, but she still enjoyed the evening quite a bit.

The Cosmopolitan Cabaret, located on K street in Sacramento, is presenting the show from now until May 8th.  Show times are Wednesdays at 7PM, Thursdays at 2PM and 7PM, Fridays at 8PM, Saturdays at 2PM and 8Pm, and Sundays at 2PM.  Tickets start from $33.  Call the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office (916) 557-1999 to order your tickets!  There are discounts for groups of 10 or more, call (916) 557-1198.  The Cosmopolitan Cabaret Box Office is located on 1000 K Street and will be open 2 hours before the show. Read about director Mindy Cooper here.

They won’t be here forever, so make sure to get your tickets now!

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