26th annual Cabaret a spark for the arts | SteamboatToday.com

26th annual Cabaret a spark for the arts

Event shapes up to be a stimulus for Arts Council, community

— On Monday night, Kelly Anzalone was proudly wearing the head of his new “Sparky the Raccoon” costume, strumming a ukulele and singing bits of something to the tune of “Electric Avenue.”

“My mom made this costume out of a 100-year-old jacket that was made out of real raccoon pelts,” Anzalone said, rubbing the raccoon mask and offering a story that sounded about 15 percent true. “I need to figure out how to make the ends smoke.”

The Cabaret co-producer, Steamboat Springs Arts Council board president and former Steamboat Mountain Theater owner joins co-emcee Michael David to host the 26th annual Cabaret, a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs Arts Council.

“Sparky” will make multiple appearances as the various crispy critters that caused power outages in Steamboat Springs during the past year.

“Cabaret Bails the ‘Boat” – which starts with a gala performance 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and continues April 17 and 18 – features 28 original skits, 36 cast and 13 crew members in a two-act melee that leaves no potentially humorous, possibly offensive stone unturned.

At a Monday staff meeting, Anzalone joined director Patty Zimmer, co-producer Katy Kriz, music director Kip Strean, co-emcee Michael David and actor Kris Hammond for a planning session that provided as much frantic back-and-forth as a typical Cabaret skit.

Anzalone briefly considered buying a mask to help his portrayal of Sparky, but David rejected the idea.

“No, no, we want to see it’s you,” David said, echoed with suggestions of face paint from the rest of the cast.

“You could just punch me in both eyes, right before I go out,” Anzalone said.

Cabaret ticket holders: this is what you have to look forward to.

The title is no joke

As of Tuesday afternoon, about half of the tickets for Cabaret’s three shows had sold, said Rachel Radetsky, facilities and events manager for the Arts Council.

The variety show is the Arts Council’s second biggest fundraiser of the year – July’s Art in the Park sale is the first – and the nonprofit group needs as much help from ticket proceeds as it can get, Anzalone said. “Cabaret Bails the ‘Boat” ideally will help bail out the Arts Council, which during the past year has sustained cuts in city funding and reduced income from grants and donations.

“I think the Arts Council, like so many other nonprofits, we’re just strapped for cash. That is definitely a concern on everyone’s mind,” Anzalone said. “We thought about the title to sort of say, the Arts Council does need your support, we’re still here, we still have lots of programs, but all we need is cash, and we’re going to be fine.”

That message doesn’t go silent in the show. “Money” by The Beatles is reworked for the opening number, and “All You Need is Love” has become “All We Need is Cash.”

The Arts Council needs funding to roll out some of the programs it has in the works, Anzalone said, including a new look at providing services for its affiliates, efforts to offer performing arts components to visual arts events, and uses for the Depot Art Center’s gallery space.

Anzalone said he plans to talk to the Cabaret audience about what the Arts Council board is working on, and what direction it hopes to take.

A Steamboat stimulus

Kriz and Strean said this year’s Cabaret auditions were among the best they’ve seen, with a flood of volunteer cast and crew showing up with sharp, completed skits and songs.

“I do think the fact that so many people came to try out to this show and so many people wanted to be in this show shows how important the arts are to the Yampa Valley,” Kriz said.

The show has the same no-hold-barred approach to comedy as it’s had for the past 25 years, touching on local, state and national topics. In 2008, Cabaret writers received gifts ranging from Sarah Palin to economic stimulus packages to school lunches.

“With the hard times that have fallen on people everywhere, it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity to just relax and laugh and have a good time, and I think people are really needing that right now,” Zimmer said.

Writers held back on personal jabs this year and went for broader, topic-based skits, Anzalone said. But the door for current events-based jokes is open through Cabaret’s run, with Kris Hammond reprising his popular postman character, who reads local-humor-laced mail that has slipped through the P.O. Box cracks.

“If you do something stupid between now and next week, we can still fit you in,” Anzalone said.

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