Sunday, March 8, 2009

High Energy: the Stackner's Fire On The Bayou

By Russ Bickerstaff
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It was with something of a heavy heart that I went to the Milwaukee Rep’s Stackner Cabaret for Fire On The Bayou. It had been a very busy few weeks, with something like 14 openings in 3 weeks. It’s difficult to describe the feeling when going to that 14th show—you go in kind of fatigued from everything that you’ve seen recently, but you know that, what with the clustering of openings in late February/early March, you know that the rest of the month could end up feeling kind of slow in comparison.

Due to the difficulties with scheduling, I’m rarely able to get all the shows I attend into an aesthetically pleasing order. Ideally, the heavy drama comes early in the week, leaving the lighter comedies for later on in the weekend. You try to match your mood to the piece your seeing. Ideally, you’re in a good mood for comedy and a contemplative mood for heavier drama.

Music is a bit different--it’s difficult to know how to go in to a touring Broadway Musical . . . but with Cabaret, it’s different. Usually a relaxed, sociable mood is best for cabaret. This was where I was last night—relaxed and ready for a relaxing evening of cabaret music. It was New Orleans jazz, so I figured it’d be a pleasantly relaxed evening. I wasn’t prepared for what Fire On The Bayou. I can say that now and not feel at all ashamed. In my defense, it had come at the end of a particularly long set of weeks . . .

Last night’s performance of Fire On The Bayou was far and away the most energetic performance I’ve seen in six years of going to the Rep Cabaret. The handful of musicians onstage were only part of it. The audience was amazingly vocal and quick to get up and dance when prompted to. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen that kind of energy in an audience in the theatre district. It’s a lot of fun. The cabaret feels a lot more like a bar on the east side--it felt good to be a part of that kind of energy. I just wish I had more energy for it. I wish it had come a bit earlier in the series of 15 shows . . .

The Stackner Cabaret’s Fire On The Bayou runs through May 10th. A more comprehensive review of the show appears in the Shepherd-Express.  

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