Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Member Spotlight: Jennifer Eckes

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

Jennifer Eckes has to be one of our most prolific members. She has a family where everyone shares a musical talent of some sort. Theater is a mainstay where she has had roles in everything from Sondheim to Frank Sinatra tributes. Work at the Ordway, Artistry and the Plymouth Playhouse shows her versatility. If that isn't enough, she has regular stints with the MN Opera where she is currently in Romeo & Juliet. Along with fellow TCCAN members she merged the worlds of cabaret, theater and pop culture in the successful venture of Pop Up Musical. But the cornerstone has always been her engaging cabaret sets and shows where she is afforded the chance to show us her true identity.

Why Cabaret:
In her own words: "Coming from a background of doing musical theatre, operetta, and opera, I’ve been cast in roles based on my vocal type, my movement capabilities, my age and gender, and how I look. In cabaret, I can choose to sing songs that I normally never would be cast to sing, and I get to reinvent them to suit me and the audience. It’s challenging and fun for me to take a song out of its original context and make it something new, something my own, and to make the audience hear it in a new and provocative way. In cabaret, there is no “fourth wall” as there is in theatre - we create a connection to the audience, and taking that audience along is part of the journey of the moment, which we all get to experience together."

Cabaret Snapshot:
For her cabaret shout out, she talks about finding the humor in her set. We talk at length in TCCAN about making sure our choices are not always a therapy session where we lay our personal struggles out in the open for everyone to sympathize with us. There is something to be said about opening up in the same way, but finding the humor in the hubris. "I really love to make people laugh, especially unexpectedly. There’s a story I like to tell about an old pen pal of mine who used to make mixed tapes for me, and I sing a song he once recorded for me, “Won’t Last a Day Without You”. It’s a beautiful lyric, a song about getting through tough times because of a loyal friend. But about halfway through the song, I start to sing it as my old pen pal did... which was terribly off-key, but nonetheless dedicated and above all, totally sincere in his delivery. I love the moment when this juxtaposition happens, and the audience goes from being pleasantly content to being a little bewildered, and then laughing hysterically at the absurdity." I have seen Jennifer present this and it is indeed endearing. There are many ways to tell a story and she always finds one that is uniquely hers!

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