Perry-Mansfield to host 2 performances in Steamboat |

Perry-Mansfield to host 2 performances in Steamboat

Pianist Shelly Markham accompanies Valerie Swift while rehearsing a piece Wednesday at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.
Matt Stensland

— By Monday, Jay Uhler will be back in North Andover, Mass., and back on stage performing after-dinner entertainment at clubs and restaurants, just as he has for decades.

At 72 years old, the gray-haired man with the youthful smile still has a yearning for self-expression, which brought him to Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp for one week to hone his vocal expression skills at the Art of Cabaret Workshop.

“It brings so much joy and emotion to their life,” Uhler said about his cabaret audiences. “And using stories to set up those songs, people can identify, they can apply their whole life to that song.”

Uhler, along with nine other students in the workshop, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Julie Harris Theatre to culminate the week of workshops. Tickets are $15.

The faculty of the program, professional performers hailing from New York City and Los Angeles, will perform at 8 p.m. today. Tickets are $25.

Faculty member Barry Klein­bort said the weeklong program offers an opportunity for the students and faculty to move freely in their self-awareness as they reach within to find the power to entertain.

“It’s a chance for singers coming from all over the country to learn how to really hone their skills at communication through song,” Kleinbort said. “It’s the discovery how song can be an extension of who we are as people, a way for them to communicate something about themselves.”

For Uhler, singing the song “Candy” is a deep reflection of his own life because it was his mother’s nickname.

“They were married for 70 years,” Uhler said about his parents. “Everyone can identify with longing to be with someone for 70 years.”

Other songs in his repertoire include “Young at Heart” and “Abba Dabba Honeymoon,” but he hasn’t decided what he’ll sing this weekend.

Faculty member Christopher Denny said cabaret is more about the heart behind the voice.

“When song performance is stripped down to cabaret style without the trappings of costumes or sets, the singer’s work is the center, the starting place,” Denny said.

In the faculty performance tonight, faculty member Andrea Marcovicci will fill the stage with plenty of heart, but there better be room on stage for her enormous personality.

Marcovicci will sing excerpts from a new cabaret show of hers titled “Blue Champagne: The History of Torch Songs,” in which she humorously explores the realm of longing love songs like “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and “Love Me or Leave Me.”

However dreamily desperate the subject matter, Marcovicci said everything turns to comedy in her hands.

“Sometimes they just love the mistakes,” Marcovicci said about the audience.

Like when she broke her mic stand twice during a show, or told her accompanist to skip an entire song because she just wasn’t feeling funny enough.

For Denny, the spontaneity that Marcovicci embodies on and off stage is at the heart of cabaret.

“You can get the theme, recognize the songs, but at the end of the evening, you’re going to feel like you just had a great night with Andrea,” Denny said. “Because it’s just one person up there, it feels like you’re having a wonderful evening with that person.”

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