That old adage of “The show must go on,” was the motto of the evening on May 16 as the Durango Choral Society presented its annual Cabaret fundraiser.
Amy Barrett and her husband, Kermitt, welcomed a new son on May 10, just six days earlier. (He attended the event, but slept through the adulation.)
Barrett is the music director of the Durango Children’s Chorale, the new Durango Youth Choir and Durango Narrow Gauge Barbershoppers. It was the Youth Choir that was scheduled to be onstage at the Cabaret, and Barrett was there not just to conduct, but to sing “The Frim Fram Sauce” with Devin Acevedo, Amiah Hanson, Anna Haverly, Deana Lancaster, Kate McCourt and Emma Vigil.
As for the appendectomy, DCS Music Director Linda Mack Berven had an emergency operation the evening of May 11. Because she had been feeling ill for two weeks, she said she felt better immediately, but still, it was surgery. The only indications she was still healing were that she sat to rest more often and hugged a little more gingerly.
The Hospitality Committee, headed by Michelle Hegenwald and Sydney Morris, included Debra Lehl and Abby Bowen. Between their cooking marathon and food from Chuck Norton Catering, guests enjoyed quite the spread, including mammoth fruit, cheese and veggie platters, bread bowls with spinach dip, chicken skewers with pineapple, chicken salad sandwiches, a carving station with beef, pork and turkey, with some of those condiments Norton’s is known for, desserts including cream puffs and other goodies, and a wide selection of truffles courtesy of DCS Executive Director Dawn Spaeder.
On the say-it-isn’t-so side, a huge tray of crab cakes was stolen from Hegenwald’s car as she was unloading, crab cakes it took her four hours to make. Sometimes I just don’t understand people.
In yet another show of generosity, Stan Crapo of Star Liquors was the event sponsor. Steve and Marti Kiely also continue to be quite generous. In addition to buying dinner for the performers pre-concert and going in with Wynn Berven to buy a conducting gig for Fort Lewis College President Dene Kay Thomas at the DCS Christmas concert on Dec. 6, Steve Kiely had a lot of fun during the ask to the audience to make donations to support the organization, as Megan Lopez vamped her way through the audience.
The choral society, a smaller version than we see at many concerts during the year, opened the show with “Blue Moon” and closed it with “Bushel and a Peck,” from “Guys and Dolls.”
One of the most fun things about this event is that we get to hear the superb soloists from within the choral society. Sarah Choczyczk wowed once again with “Cry Me a River.” I told her I’d kill for her voice, so if she ever ends up voiceless, she’ll know what happened.
Lucy Johnson handled both the delicacy and bravura of “Maybe This Time,” from “Cabaret.” Sara Illsley, accompanied by Ruth Cutcher on guitar, sang “Bésame Mucho” the way it’s meant to be sung, not as a quick-paced pop song but a measured pace with a bit of lamentation. Illsley told me she once had the honor of meeting composer Consuelo Velázquez, who told Illsley that her entire family had lived off the royalties of that one huge hit song.
Mandy Gardner, who may be the biggest ham in Durango, but without a doubt holds the title in the Durango Women’s Choir, which is saying something, sang not one, but two solos, the first complaining about aching tootsies in “Ooh! My Feet! from “Most Happy Fella,” and then with “Ma, He’s Making Eyes at Me” in a solo with the Women’s Choir. The choir also sang “Sunrise, Sunset” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” with Alison Dance taking on a solo, and “My Guy.”
The Jewel Tones, an all-female a capella group from Telluride reprised their role as guest artists to great acclaim. After putting the Andrews Sisters to shame on “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree,” the went on to shine on “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” “What’ll I Do” and “When I’m 64.” Karla Brown, Ginny Fraser, Anna Robinson and Amy VanDerBosch are welcome back anytime as far as I’m concerned.
After bringing us many serious music moments, Gemma Kavanagh decided to spoof “Cats” iconic song “Memory” – as in she doesn’t have one anymore – and Curtis Storm and Lopez went to town on “The Song That Goes Like This” from “Spamalot.” (The three come in tied for second for hamming it up.)
As always, Christi Livingston didn’t miss a beat or note as the accompanist, and Kathy Riebau handled the piano playlist as guests arrived, noshed and then noshed some more during intermission. (As I said, it was quite a spread.)
The Durango Choral Society Cabaret maintains its standing as one of the most entertaining and memorable fundraisers of the year.
Bravos to one and all!