BWW Review: Nik and Sarah's Cabaret: HOMEMADE FUSION at Club Vibe
Nik and Sarah's cabarets may be my new favorite thing in Omaha. No, that's not true. They ARE my favorite thing in Omaha. The problem is, Nik Whitcomb is leaving the Omaha area for the Old Log Theater just outside Minneapolis for a run as the subway ghost in GHOST THE MUSICAL. I wish him the best, but am sad that there may be a pause between this latest cabaret, HOMEMADE FUSION, and the next great show that Nik and Sarah Gibson will produce at Club Vibe.
HOMEMADE FUSION is Kooman and Dimond's "series of musical snapshots" that examine the gamut of relationships. Some songs were wildly silly, such as "To Excess," sung from a stalker's point of view-- in this case David Jesik (those large red panties were quite the prop!) In "Oh Henry!" Sarah Gibson asked the questions, what is in an O Henry! bar, and why is it always the last one left in the vending machine? Is she even really talking about candy bars? Zach Kloppenborg despaired of his solitary imaginary relationship in the theme song "Homemade Fusion." Emily Hill voiced her frustrations with her beau not wanting to satisfy her special longings in the offbeat, "Sherman and Madeline." (....I'm sure that was a challenge for Emily with her family in the front row, but she carried it off with smiles and big notes.)
"Random Black Girl," sung by Regina Parker poked fun at stereotyping Black performers as those who should be singin' the soul and making up an entire phrase out of one syllabllllllleeeee. Nik and Sarah had us cracking up with "The Temp and the Receptionist," an inspired parody of office romance within their 'cubicles of love.'
Not all of Kooman and Dimond's musical offerings were funny, though. Some were contemplative, such as "Blue Horizon" sung by the fresh voiced Ashley Laverty, and "Lucy's Laugh," offered in Nik's rich and resonant vocals. Mallory Vallier sang "I Think He Likes Me," perfectly capturing the sweet wistfulness of discovering young love, while her husband, Tim Vallier, sang of love lost in "Walking Without You."
Some of the songs were so poignant and beautiful that they pulled feelings out through my skin. Joe O'Connor agonized over the death of a loved one in "Lost in the Waves." "Out of My Head" delivered by the incomparable Roni Shelly Perez, haunted me to the point that I went home, bought the music on Amazon, and put it on repeat.
Nik and Sarah, cabaret hosts second to none, interspersed the musical numbers with audience participation games. I couldn't 'Name That Tune' even with a couple of helpful hints from Sarah and a few bars from pianist Sarah Collins. There were those in the audience who had the answers before I could even process the clues. 'Two Truths and One Lie:' Who has lived in 12 states? Who was really a professional child clown? Who has four webbed toes? Oh, the things you can learn about a person!
Nik and Sarah's cabarets are Omaha's answer to NYC's Birdland. They are cozy. They are fun. They are highly entertaining. They introduce us to the new, like the amazing Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond songwriter/composer duo, and they reacquaint us with the familiar local talent that we've grown to love on stages all over the metro. The voices were so good. The music was so good. The cabaret was so good!
This is musical theater at its most personal. Take a small venue, one pianist, and a handful of really talented local performers, toss them together for a fusion of fun. I hope with all my heart that these cabarets will go on.
Head shot of Nik Whitcomb.