Choral Society Cabaret putting spotlight on romance
Terry Mathews | News-Telegram Arts Editor

North East Texas Choral Society members (left to right) Kevin Woolley, Dr. Chuck Jones, Ken Hanushek, Geoff Wallace, Mike Dodd and Waylon Jordan rehearse "Ain't Nothing Like a Dame" from "South Pacific" for next weekend's Cabaret. Tickets are going quickly for the Friday night performance, but more are available for Saturday evening by calling 903-885-2145 or 903-885-2949.
Staff Photo

Feb. 4, 2007 - North East Texas Choral Society will put a spotlight on romance for Valentine's Day next weekend with a Cabaret Masquerade Ball in the gym of First United Methodist Church on Friday and Saturday night, Feb. 9 and 10.

"We're giving our audience a way to make Valentine's Day more special," said Linda Riddle, one of the coordinators for the event. "The atmosphere is going to be very warm and inviting."

Cabaret started in 2001 as both a fundraiser and a way for the group's singers and performers to let their hair down a little, shifting the emphasis from one cohesive voice to individual talents and solo performances.

The overall theme is a touch of elegance with show-stopping numbers from the cream of the choral group's crop. This year, the society went to the Great White Way for their inspiration.

"We're doing Broadway this year," Riddle said. "And we have some special surprises planned."

One of the highlights of the evening will be a "dueling pianoes" bit, performed by Ken Hanushek and Denise Grammar, doing a number from Oscar and Hammerstein's beloved "South Pacific." There will also be an audience participation number for everyone's enjoyment.

"We're also doing numbers from 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'Rent,' 'The Pajama Game,' 'Showboat,' and 'Fiddler on the Roof,'" Riddle said. "We try to keep the music fresh."

The traditional gourmet dinner, always a highlight of Cabaret, will begin at 7 each evening, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. The menu, prepared by local chef Juan Olvera, includes a salad of spring greens, pork tenderloin with fresh mango salsa, loaded mashed potatoes, a fresh vegetable medley, croissant and cheesecake. 

Members of the choral society will be serving their guests. 

"We've got the serving part down to a science," said Riddle, a former caterer. "One year, we served about 200 people in 15 minutes."

After a leisurely dinner, guests will enjoy a performance of Broadway tunes, and Riddle said the audience won't know they're in a gym. 

"We're decorating it like a ballroom," she said. "And we have a stage and special lighting."

Riddle added that, while the event is a masquerade ball, masks are optional.

"People don't need to wear a mask to enjoy the evening," she said. "We just thought it might add to the fun."

But if they do want to get in on the fun and participate in the masquerade, guests can wear their own mask or purchase one at the door.

Tickets are $30 each and can be purchased from any choral society member, or by calling Riddle weekdays at 903-885-2145, or by contacting Beth Alsobrook at 903-885-2949.

"Tickets for Friday night are going quickly," Riddle said. "We have more tickets available for Saturday night."

The society, founded in 1998 with approximately 85 members, produces two major shows a year. Their spring concert is the first weekend in May, and the Christmas concert is held the first weekend in December, with the cabaret tossed as their annual fund raising event.

"We are an all-volunteer group offering our members the chance to sing with 100 other voices," Riddle offered. "We don't have any divas."

The North East Texas Choral Society is a non-profit organization, making all contributions tax deductible.

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