Loni Nannini Special for the Arizona Daily Star
Arts Express will present a 4th of July tradition with a twist at the 39th Annual “Let Freedom Sing”.
“We believe there must be a way to celebrate the nation’s birthday that is apolitical and just fun,” said Karen Wiese, executive director and producer of “Let Freedom Sing.” “We continue to work hard to create production that shows our diversity but showcases all that unites us. This year we will be presenting our variety show on the main stage which is perfect for families and we are also launching our piano bar which will provide a more intimate adult experience.
Wiese said Arts Express has long dreamed of offering both musical theater and a piano bar for after-hours shows where actors can show off their vocal and musical skills and interact with patrons.
The vision will come true during performances of the “Let Freedom Sing” cabaret at the Piano Bar of the Arts Express Theater at Park Place, 5870 E. Broadway, Ste 214.
The opening is particularly timely as it coincides with the build-up to the upcoming Arts Express production of “Guys and Dolls,” which is set in the 1940s when piano bars proliferated across America.
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Audiences at cabaret shows can expect songs from the Broadway classic, including “Luck Be a Lady” and “Sue Me”, as well as classics from The Great American Songbook, with tunes made popular by stars such as as Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, the Andrews Sisters and Frank Sinatra.
“It’s American music. It’s music written by Americans, performed by Americans, made famous by Americans and loved by Americans. It’s basically the roots of American music and we can trace it all what’s happening in music today all the way back to those who wrote music in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s: they all have ties,” said Matthew Holter, production manager for “Let Sing freedom “.
Audience connections call on Erin Anderson, who will perform with Jax Stewart at the Piano Bar from 7-9 p.m. on Sunday, July 3. Sly Slipetsky will accompany the singers on the piano.
“It’s such an intimate and relaxed setting. It’s a way to connect audiences and give them the chance to get to know local artists individually and understand how they like to share their art,” Anderson said.
Since many American songs come from early musical theater, the cabaret experience also serves as a non-intimidating introduction to the genre, according to Holter.
“This is an opportunity for people who have never seen musical theater to get a taste of it. They can also see the developments we have made at the Arts Express Theater as well as projects and plans for the future,” said Holter, who hopes the Cabaret will encourage people to attend the “Let Freedom Sing” Mainstage performance. and/or “Guys and Dolls” and other upcoming productions.
Along with patriotic favorites such as “America the Beautiful,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and “Cohan’s Big Three,” the main show will feature cast classics from “Guys and Dolls” as well as other Broadway tunes, jazz and old-school gospel.
The main stage performance is a great way for people of all ages to come together on July 4, according to Daniel Gilmore, who will play Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls” and sing with his castmates in the variety show. Gilmore will also dance to Frank Sinatra favorites in a segment choreographed by Mikhail Baryshnikov.
“The shows are family-oriented and I highly recommend them as a unifying, fun experience where family and friends can spend time together,” said Gilmore, who started performing with Arts Express about six years ago. year.
He suggests that anyone interested in the performing arts consider exploring the healthy, collaborative environment embraced by the nonprofit, which serves more than 25,000 people a year through a continuum of introductory programs. and advanced and hearing experiences. “Arts Express is a place to relax and have a good time. I’m not the only one who describes it as an antidepressant: singing and performing can be therapeutic,” Gilmore said.
Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at [email protected]