When Friday night came around, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. It was one of my rare evenings off from work and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to stay at home with my Netflix or dress up and experience the city that never sleeps. Luckily, I was spared the taxing process of making a decision when I received a phone call from one of my close friends. She told me she was going to be performing in something called “Cranky Cabaret” and not only would I be overwhelmed by the wonderful entertainment, but there was also an open bar available for $20. I was putting on my shoes and out the door within minutes.
Cranky Cabaret is located on West 36th Street, in a black box theater of Joria Studios. I took a small elevator up to the third floor and was greeted with smiles as soon as the door opened. My date and I were asked if we were going to be enjoying the open bar, which seemed like a silly question to us, but oh well. We obviously said yes, were given hand stamps, paid our $20 and walked into the performance space.
All of the members of the cabaret themselves were mingling with the audience members who had already arrived. At that point, there was about a half an hour until the show was going to start. I saw my friend immediately and gave her a hug and a quick wish of good luck and leg-breaking, before heading to the bar. The two “bartenders” on duty were actually the two hosts of the show, I later found out. There was an unlimited amount of the beloved Pabst Blue Ribbon, white and red boxed wine, and sangria. It was such a laid-back, cozy atmosphere that I forgot I was out somewhere and not just at a small house party in one of my friends’ apartments.
About twenty minutes later, there was last call and everyone grabbed a couple cups before making their way to their seats. The show was about to begin!
The two hosts (and bartenders), Sara Plunkett and Dustin Boone were hilarious. They were able to get everyone pumped up and in the mood. It almost felt as if I were at some sort of comedy club, what with the back-and-forth banter and wit they demonstrated with their introductions. It was reminiscent of a Saturday Night Live opening skit. I loved it.
The first act of the show, the singers involved sang mostly funny songs from different musicals, plays, and movies. One performer, Jacob Carlson even wrote an original piece. My lovely friend, the talented Ayanna Williams, did a number called “Random Black Girl” by Kooman and Dimond and brought down the house! It seemed as if a lot of the singers chose pieces that reflected them as people and things they actually go through and experience. Ayanna’s sure did, along with the song “Korea” by Bernstein and Sondheim, performed by the Korean performer Hugh Cha, who contributed additional lyrics.
There was a brief intermission where everyone fled first to the bathroom, then back to the bar for refills. The second act included somewhat more serious songs, and a good deal of covers of songs that were famously on the radio. The two hosts jumped in for a heartbreaking duet of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Rait. The singer Shannon did an absolutely outstanding job with her cover of the traditional folk song “House of the Rising Sun.” The show wrapped up with Jacob’s cover of the Adam Sandler original, “Somebody Kill Me” (Yes, from The Wedding Singer!).
All in all, the show was amazing. It was funny and, at times, very heartwarming and moving. The performers were nothing short of excellent; I hope and expect to see all of them one day in the bright lights of the Broadway stage. All of this, plus some nice adult refreshments for $20, was a better deal than anything I could have thought of. Seeing the “Cranky Cabaret” was a great way to spend my Friday night! They perform mostly every weekend, with different casts, all including the open bar deal. Also, they are always looking for more people so if you love to sing, perform, and have a good time, I would definitely look in to auditioning and becoming a part of the “cranky” team.
Twisted Talk: Have you seen the Cranky Cabaret? Will you hit up their open bar and performance? Discuss below!