What do you get when you blend New York-style cabaret, an octet of Broadway and on-their-way-to-Broadway stars, a sensational backup band, music from the silver screen, and a trendy Hollywood-adjacent night spot?

The answer, my friends, is not (to paraphrase Bob Dylan) “blowin’ in the wind,” unless perchance that wind happens to be blowin’ past BARRE vt, the hottest spot in the part of town we Angelinos call Los Feliz.

Following cabaret productions spotlighting the greatest hits of John Hughes’ and Quentin Tarentino’s most popular films, Show At Barre—the brilliantly inspired brainchild of producer Shane Scheel and music director Chris Bratten—returns with For the Record: Baz Luhrmann, its glitziest, most glamorous concoction to date.

With a revolving cast of twenty, eight of whom perform on any given evening, For The Record features performances of over two dozen soundtrack hits from the Australian director’s Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge, the latter two presented with snippets of dialog, as well as hair, makeup and costumes to stir up memories of those two epic love stories.

Last Saturday’s show had Sarah Jayne Jensen, Ginifer King, Derek Klena, Michael Motroni, Jason Paige, Darryl Semira, Talia Thiesfield, and Tracie Thoms dazzling the packed house with some of the most exciting vocal performances the Los Feliz neighborhood is likely ever to have heard.

Act One’s tribute to R + J featured Semira as Romeo (“To You I Bestow,” “You And Me Song”) and Jensen as Juliet (“Lovefool,” “#1 Crush”) in a thrillingly romantic set which also included Paige’s “Local God,” Thiesfeld’s “Young Hearts Run Free,” and (in her For The Record: Baz Luhrmann debut) Thoms’ “Everybody’s Free” and, in the evening’s most thrilling segment, a poignant, heartbreaking “When Doves Cry.”

Completing Act One was a quartet of songs from Simply Ballroom: the four male performers’ “Happy Feet,” King’s “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps,” Jensen and Semira’s “Time After Time,” and Klena’s “Love Is In The Air.”

Following a ten-minute intermission, Act Two’s Moulin Rouge tribute starred King and Klena in the roles made famous by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, a mood of impending romance and doom set by Semira’s “Nature Boy.” Klena soloed with “Your Song” and “Complainte de la Butte” and King with “Sparkling Diamonds” and “One Day I’ll Fly Away,” the couple duetting the “Elephant Love Medley” and “Come What May.” Motroni, as the flamboyantly made-up Zidler, stole the show with “The Pitch” (joined by Paige and Semira), “Like A Virgin,” and “The Show Must Go On.” Paige’s “Children Of The Revolution” and “El Tango De Roxanne,” Thiesfeld’s “Hindi Sad Diamonds,” and the four women’s rocking “Lady Marmalade” completed the Moulin Rouge set, the entire cast joining voices with Thiesfeld for an infectious “Rhythm Of The Night.”


Saturday’s cast couldn’t have been better, Broadway’s Jensen so delicate a blonde that her powerhouse pipes came as an exciting surprise, Broadway’s King looking like a Kidman/Satine-ringer and singing like a dream, and future Broadway headliner Klena combining looks and vocal prowess in equal proportion. Motroni proved not only a showman extraordinaire, but a vocalist to equal the sensational dancing he’s best known for. One-of-a-kind Paige, his former mop of hair buzzed down to a Squiggy curl, showed off his rafter-raising rock star vocal cords. Handsome young Broadway vet Semira sang stunningly, as did a terrific Thiesfeld. As for Thoms, what other dramatic TV leading lady (100+ episodes of Cold Case) has such triple-threat talents, starring on Broadway and in movies (Rent), on the intimate L.A. stage (And Her Hair Went With Her), and as a Barre cabaret star?

Providing impeccable backup to the evening’s stars were Bratten on keys, Johnny Morrow on bass, Kiel Feher on drums, and Nick Perez on guitar.

Kudos also go out to Jake Simpson (technical director), Travis Hagenbuch (light design), and Matt Starcher (sound), and the rest of the “Behind The Curtain” crew and “Barre Men” credited in the evening’s program.

Performing on other evenings in various octagonal configurations (which may also include Saturday’s stars) are Dionne Gipson, Ben D. Goldberg, Jenna Leigh Green, Arielle Jacobs, Steve Mazurek, John Charles Meyer, Tinke Oyefule, Kate Reinders, Margaret Spirito, Brooke Tansley, Jackie Tohn, and Jessica Keenan Wynn, a number of whose work has been raved about in previous StageSceneLA reviews.

For The Record tickets (currently $20 plus online service charge) are available at Dinner is served at 8:00. The show starts at 9:00. There is a two-drink minimum. Performances are selling out, so reservations are a must—hardly a surprise for what looks to be the L.A. Cabaret Experience of 2011.

Barre, 1714 N. Vermont, Los Angeles.
–Steven Stanley
March 5, 2011

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