BWW Review: PORTRAIT of the Cabaret Series at The Trust, Lancaster
Just over three years ago, actor and cabaret performer Reji Woods wanted to do one simple cabaret performance. "I wanted to honor the three important women in my life: my wife, my mother, and my mother in law." When he approached The Trust Performing Arts Center about a venue, the response was equally simple, but not what he'd had in mind. "They asked me to turn it into their summer events program." The result was PORTRAIT OF A LADY, a series of cabarets devoted to one diva at a time. Past seasons' divas have included Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin, and Gloria Estefan, among others. The current diva is Tina Turner, and the following diva will be Barbara Streisand -but no worries about younger divas being featured this year, as Christina Aguilera was included this summer as well.
Woods emcees each show as well as performing numbers with other cast members (and occasionally soloing), but the emphasis is not only on the women being celebrated but on the various women Current performers include former New York cabaret performer Maria Pancella; recording artist Jennifer Bocian - who also performs independently, ukulele in hand, as singer-songwriter Lucille Ciconia; and Thomas Murphy, who lends some Ike Turner assistance to Woods.
The usuAl Turner standards are present - you know you'll hear "River Deep, Mountain High" and "What's Love Got to Do With It" as well as "Private Dancer" and "Proud Mary," but there are unexpected delights. "Shake a Tail Feather" is audience-interactive, as if a Tina Turner revue isn't already call enough to get up and dance.
Other performers include Danielle Pozanovic and Jennifer Wolcott, as well as the "Rejettes" Ashley Crutcher, Merlene Fisher, and Kara Hartman. Performers including Bocian and Hartman were in the Christina Aguilera cabaret, and others from these and other PORTRAIT cabarets, as well as new performers, may be at the Streisand cabarets.
It's concert rather than table seating; coffee is free, and the music's fine. There's room to dance, and audience participation is encouraged and welcomed. This cabaret isn't stuffy, it's down to earth and unpretentious. With shows starting at 7:00 and the atmosphere of The Trust, the performances are family-friendly if you want to show your kids what you think real music is about, and you'll be home in time to get ready for Monday.
The PORTRAIT OF A LADY cabarets run through the end of the month. Visit www.LancasterTrust.com for information.