Cabaret is a dish best served warm with a side of cozy, and that’s how three Chicago-area songstresses like it.
Cabaret favorites Marianne Murphy Orland, Beckie Menzie and Laura Freeman present a program titled “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” at 6 p.m. Dec. 15 in North Central College’s Madden Theatre.
The program will be filled with songs of the season, like “Merry Christmas, Darling” and “Silent Night,” and some fun surprises, like “Keep Your Stinking Wonderland.”
The ladies have their own independent cabaret careers, but after being in some ensembles together found they were very compatible musically, Orland said. They put together a show as a trio, and found so much success they decided to create a holiday show in 2012 — “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
“We were thrilled to discover Madden Theatre at North Central College because for cabaret you need an intimate space … and that connection with the audience,” Orland said. “You’re not playing a character. You’re singing songs and telling stories about yourself. It’s not the same in a big space.”
The holiday show was built from scratch, she said, with material none of them had used in a show before.
“We all love the holidays,” she said. “We’re able to woodshed harmonies … we don’t have to sit down and map out arrangements. We can stand around a piano and come up with beautiful, intricate harmonies and when you listen to us, you often can’t tell who is singing what line. We have a special affinity for each other and when we sing together … we’re able to blend nicely.”
Another aspect of the show is the personal stories that accent the songs, or the songs that go with the stories.
“We wanted it to be funny, and we wanted it to be touching,” she said. “The arc of the show goes through the gratitude of Thanksgiving up through the highs and lows of the holidays.”
Audiences will hear songs like “White Christmas” — “I’ve been going to a sing-along ‘White Christmas’ party with the same group of people for 15 years, so there had to be a touch of ‘White Christmas’ in the show from my perspective,’” she said.
“Beckie will do a special Hanukkah song written by a Chicago writer,” she said.
There will be new arrangements of familiar songs, songs that aren’t as familiar and plenty of banter and storytelling, she said,
“There will be something everyone can relate to, whether it’s a story about a family Christmas, or being away from home for the holidays. Everybody’s going to find something that will hopefully make them laugh or even tear up just a little bit. We love this show.”
After the holidays, the ladies will buckle down and put some hard hours into their new show, she said. It’s loosely based on a book called “Girls Like Us,” which is the story of Carole King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell — their musical interaction from the time they were coming up in the pop-rock world.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” she said. “It’s exciting to be with the people who have the depth of talent and breadth of experience they have. The three of us coming together, we bring out the best in each other. We’ve developed a musical friendship that comes across in our performances.”