Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Member Spotlight: Joey Clark

In promotion with our upcoming Cabaret Fest October 1st & 2nd, here is the next installment of our member features.

While he might be one of our newer members, he certainly is no stranger to many stages and circles here in the Twin Cities. Joey Clark found his way to TCCAN via a back door. He had played piano as an accompanist for us a few times bringing his expertise to us in that capacity. But he is also a formidable artist in front of a mic, so it only took a bit of convincing from a few of us allies to get him to join. In just a short year he has been a huge advocate in all we do and we are the better for it. He is a valued staff member at Saint Paul Conservatory where he is rearing the next generation of young musical theater artists. He directs all over town in any genre. He has landed major roles at Artistry in Sunday In the Park, with Frank in Cabaret...... How many hats can one talented individual wear? Many it would seem.

Why Cabaret: 
 As a cabaret performer, I get to break down the walls between audience & artist and truly engage my audience on a personal level throughout the performance. This may be in the form of vocal or physical audience participation, bringing members of the audience up on to the stage to be a part of the action, or going out into the audience to engage them in conversation. The feedback loop from audience member to actor on stage and from actor on stage to audience member is thrilling and seductively powerful!

Cabaret Snapshot:
 My cabaret show Out of the Trenches and Over the Rainbow was a one-man, original work about bullying that came as a response to a Rutgers University’s student’s act of suicide after being outed as gay by his roommate. Through that show I was able to promote awareness for Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project" and raise money for The Trevor Project (a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ youth). This is truly a testament to Joey's passion for making change through his art which is obvious in many things he does.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Member Spotlight: Oron Stenesh

In prelude to our upcoming Cabaret Fest on October 1st & 2nd, we will doing regular features on a handful of our members. What better way to shout out who we are and what we do.

PictureThe first without apology is Mr. Oron Stenesh; a proud Kalamazoo MI native who found his way here via New York. He has launched numerous solo pieces such as The Big 3-O, Olection, HerniO; Stories of Strains and the O Train at landmark places like the Duplex in NYC or the Bryant Lake Bowl here in town. His colorful presence is infectious. For each personal profile we are asking Why Cabaret? and also a Favorite Cabaret Moment snapshot while on stage:

Why Cabaret:
I love cabaret because it's such a personal and distinctive artistic expression. I come from a musical theater background, but I find it really fun and empowering to take the artistic reins from casting directors, artistic directors and producers and do my own show. Why sing a traditional 16 bars to try to land a supporting role in a regional production of “Hello, Dolly!” when you can reinvent “Ribbons Down My Back” as a coy uptempo about summer flirtation? I describe cabaret as theatre without the imaginary fourth wall between performer and audience. The audience is an active participant and the show works best as a conversation. And instead of in a play, when an actor takes on a role, in cabaret, the role played is one’s authentic self. How thrilling and fabulous!

As for my vibe, I like to mix it up with a variety of music – usually some music theatre tunes, some standards, a pop song here or there, tongue in cheek. I mess with the lyrics sometimes to give a song my own spin. I traditionally do a spoken word poem. And I weave this all together with stories and anecdotes from Life. This celebration of impromptu, honest thinking and creative freedom are what drew me in and keep me interested. I’m totally energized being up on stage. I love doing my thing, entertaining my audience and pushing the limits of humor and pathos with a show.

Cabaret Snapshot:
I think one of my more successful gambits was within my show Olection (which chronicled my fictional run for the presidency in 2007-08).  I did a bit about how much I love Bea Arthur and called out her roast of Pamela Anderson on Comedy Central. Bea roasted Pam in her own words, reading from Pam’s book “Star,” and it’s amazing. I figured I’d try the same, so did a dramatic reading of Sarah Palin’s book “Going Rogue.” I also rewrote the lyrics to a song from “Annie Get Your Gun” sending up Sarah and Todd and some of the ridiculous antics of late summer ’08 with “Yes, You Can Get VP With a Gun.