Winter Cabaret

A Winter Cabaret 2021! (watch on YouTube)

“The Crocodile’s Toothache”
Anita Hoffman, soprano
Lawrence Henry, piano   

This charming song was composed by Anita’s husband Edward Hoffman in 2020 and has poetry by Shel Silverstein. Quoting the composer: “March through October 2020 was particularly good for my creativity. While all of my Shel songs are kind of silly, the process of writing was relatively smooth. I have great respect for that creative flow.” Thank you to Ed for continuing to write such clever, witty and charming songs and thanks for sharing them with us through Anita! You can also hear Shel Silverstein himself recite this funny poem along with some great animation. Enjoy!

“Don’t Know Why”
Aubrianna Churchill, vocal
Doug Rohde, piano

This popular song was written and composed by Jesse Harris and originally appeared on his 1999 album Jesse Harris & the Ferdinandos. Norah Jones made this a cover and of course it became her first single on her debut album Come Away with Me from 2002. The single went on to win three Grammy Awards in 2003 for “Record of the Year”, “Song of the Year” and for “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance”. The song remains Jones’s biggest hit single in the US to date and her only one to reach the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100.

“Beautiful” (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical)
Abby Reynolds, vocal
Matt McFarlane, piano

Taken from Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, this song is an original written by Carole King first released on her 1971 award-winning album Tapestry. According to King, she found her inspiration to this song while sitting on the NYC subway realizing that how she was perceiving those around her, was also how she felt about herself at the time. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is what is referred to as a “jukebox musical” – a stage musical or musical film, where the majority of the songs are well-known popular songs rather than original work.

“Noel”
Michaela Beaver, vocal

The band: Julie Beaver, harmony; Josh Hoaby, harmony, acoustic guitar; Jim Ryberg, piano; Felix Norman, electric guitar 1; Deevo Dee, electric guitar 2; Ross Vanderwerf, bass guitar; Jeremy Schreifels, drums.

This song has music and lyrics written by Chris Tomlin in 2015 and is taken from the album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship. Tomlin has sold over 7 million records, has been awarded 23 GMA Dove Awards, a Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary Christian Music Album” and two RIAA certified platinum albums. TIME magazine stated that he may be the “most often sung artist anywhere”.

“Moonlight in Vermont”
Jessica Lowry-O’Keefe, vocal
Doug Rohde, piano

The music was composed by Karl Suessdorf and the lyrics are by John Blackburn in this lovely popular song from 1944. Curiously, this song has lyrics which do not rhyme. John Blackburn, the lyricist, has been quoted saying, “After completing the first 12 bars of the lyric, I realized there was no rhyme and then said to Karl, ‘Let’s follow the pattern of no rhyme throughout the song.’ It seemed right.”  The song is Vermont’s unofficial state song.

“Frosty the Snowman”
Laura Nelson, vocal
Doug Rohde, piano

This song was written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson and was recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass Country Boys in 1950. Although we tend to think of this as a Christmas song, the original lyrics make no mention of the holiday. The song is said to take place in White Plains, New York or Armonk, New York, where they have an annual parade dedicated to “Frosty”.

“I Remember” (Ever After)
Nona McFarland, vocal
Steve Swanson, piano

This song is taken from the 2015 musical Ever After with music written by Zina Goldrich and lyrics by Marcy Heisler. The musical is loosely based on the fairy tale Cinderella. And interesting note for us here in the Twin Cities; It was set to run at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota from December 3 to 29, 2019. However, it fell through and was replaced by SIX the Musical which only played at the Ordway for a limited run between November 29 and December 22.

“The Nearness of You”
Michelle Barry, vocal
Doug Rohde, piano

Known as a “popular song”, this song was written in 1938 by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics by Ned Washington. It debuted in the 1939 recording In The Mood by Glen Miller and his Orchestra and was sung by Ray Eberle.

“Circus”(Make Me Bad)
Makenna Ferreras, vocal
Steve Swanson, piano

This quirky number is from the musical Make Me Bad with music and lyrics by Drew Gasparini and based on the book by Alex Brightman. Considered a “psychological thriller musical”, it premiered at the Bloomington (IN) Playwrights Project in 2011. Gasparini is 34 year old and graduated from San Marin High School in Nevado, CA. He attended the Musicians Institute in Hollywood briefly, but realized he didn’t need a degree to be a song writer and eventually dropped out. He is currently writing scores for numerous new stage musicals including the Broadway-bound version of The Karate Kid, an adaptation of Night Shift for Warner Bros. Theater Ventures and an adaptation of the Newberry Award-winning children’s novel The Whipping Boy. Gasparini’s popularity in the contemporary music theater scene has made him a top 10 best-seller on sites where his sheet music is sold.

“Amnesia”
Linden Kalb, vocals and guitar

This is a song by the Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer from 2014. It was first released as a new single during a live stream on July 1, 2014 and was later released to American contemporary hit radio as the band’s third single from the album. The original music video has had 172 million views on Vevo and their YouTube channel.

“Angel From Montgomery”
Michaela Beaver, vocal
Chelsea Beaver, vocal and bass guitar
Marie Bräuninger, piano

John Prine wrote “Angel from Montgomery” after a friend suggested writing “another song about old people,” referring to Prine’s song “Hello in There.” Although Prine had “said everything I wanted to [about seniors] in ‘Hello in There'” he was intrigued by the idea of “a song about a middle-aged woman who feels older than she is…[Eventually] I had this really vivid picture of this woman standing over the dishwater with soap in her hands…She wanted to get out of her house and her marriage and everything. She just wanted an angel to come to take her away from all this.” (Wikipedia)

“You Ain’t Woman Enough”
Jessica Lowry-O’Keefe, vocal and guitar

Released by Decca Records on September 12, 1966 You Ain’t Woman Enough was Loretta Lynn’s seventh studio album and signified her first No. 1 album on the US Billboard Hot Country Albums chart. 5 of the songs on the album are Lynn’s compositions and the album features covers of previous hits by other artists, namely Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” and Dolly Parton’s “Put It Off Until Tomorrow”.

“I Know Things Now” (Into The Woods, 1986)
Makenna Ferreras, vocal
Steve Swanson, piano

When this show opened up on Broadway it snagged the Tony Awards for “best score”, “best book” and “best actress in a musical” (Joanna Gleason). It has since been revived both on Broadway (2002) and at London’s West End (2010) and of course in the Disney film adaptation from 2014 starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Cordon among other big names. The show is based on a book by James Lapine with both the music and lyrics written by Stephen Sondheim. This scene is the character of “Little Red” retelling her encounter with the wolf, after just being saved by the Baker. She gives the Baker her cape and continues to reflect on her experience.

“A Sunday Kind of Love”
Maya Hilten, vocal
Doug Rohde, piano

Written by Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Stan Rhodes and Louis Prima, this song has become a pop and jazz standard and has been covered and recorded by such notable artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Kenny Rankin, The Four Seasons, Frankie Laine and Etta James, to name just a few. It was first recorded in 1946 by Claude Thornhill and his Orchestra and became identified as the signature song in 1947 for its vocalist, Fran Warren.

“You Don’t Know This Man”(Parade)
Lindsey Lenz, vocal
Steve Swanson, piano

The musical Parade opened on Broadway in December 1998 and won several Tony Awards, including “Best Book” and “Best Original Score”. The latter win was out of nine nominations! It also snagged six Drama Desk Awards and has had national tours as well as professional productions in the UK. The show portrays the true story of Jewish American Leo Frank who is wrongfully accused of murdering a young girl in Georgia and is in turn imprisoned, and later lynched. In this scene, Lucille, Leo’s wife, is pleading for her husband’s life as she finally has a chance to defend him from the witness stand.

“Grow Old With Me” (Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes)
Anita Hoffman, vocal
Doug Rohde, piano

This song is taken from Jason Robert Brown’s album Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes, released in 2005.  This was Robert Brown’s solo debut album, composed entirely of tracks previously unreleased or cut songs from other shows. The album features Jason Robert Brown on vocals, piano and is a compilation of all his own arrangements. A prolific American musical theater composer, lyricist and playwright, Jason Robert Brown fuses pop-rock stylings with theatrical lyrics. A recipient of three Tony Awards for Parade (1998) and The Bridges of Madison County (2014) Jason Robert Brown credits Stephen Sondheim as his biggest influence, more specifically due to the shows Sweeney Todd and Sunday in The Park with George. “Had it not been for these two shows, I would have joined a rock band and tried to be Billy Joel.” (JRB)

”The Dream is Over”
Riley Pritchett, vocal
Doug Rohde, piano

Sir Noël Pierce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer who was known for his humor, wit and flamboyance. He was born in Teddington, UK in 1899 and died in Jamaica in 1973. Here it goes: He has over 50 plays to his name, along with hundreds of songs and dozens of musical theater works, including an operetta by the name Bitter Sweet, screenplays, poetry, several volumes of short stories, the novel; Pomp and Circumstance AND a three-volume autobiography. Whew! Did I mention he didn’t know how to read or write music and that he needed to have his music dictated?  

“Gorgeous”(The Apple Tree)
Abby Reynolds, vocal
Steve Swanson, piano

The Apple Tree is a series of three musical “playlets” with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Each act has its own storyline and all three are tied together by a common theme:  someone who believes that they want something, but once they get what they wanted they realize that it wasn’t what they wanted after all.  In “Gorgeous”, Ella – a chimney sweep – comes home to find her TV not working. Her neighbor, the friendly Godmother, grants Ella her most cherished wish:  to be famous and gorgeous.