Conservatory’s hidden talents shine in tonight’s cabaret


The 2011 Chautauqua Theater Company Conservatory and Fellows. Submitted photo.

Suzi Starheim | Staff Writer

After getting to know and love the actors of Chautauqua Theater Company throughout the summer, Chautauquans will have one last chance to see the conservatory members as a group at the Bratton Late Night Cabaret.

The event will take place at 10:30 p.m. tonight at Bratton Theater.

Artistic Director Ethan McSweeny said the Cabaret is a great way for conservatory members to finish out their summer in Chautauqua.

“The company’s last hoorah moment is the Bratton Late Night Cabaret, which is just a nice and celebratory way to wrap up their Chautauqua summer,” McSweeny said. “It’s up to them what they do. Each group has handled it a little bit differently, and it depends a lot on the talents of the group.”

McSweeny said this group happens to be extremely musical, and he thinks this is one of the talents that will be featured in tonight’s show.

“It’s a little bit of a cabaret; a little bit of a talent show; it’s a little bit of a comedy; it’s a little bit of a lot of things,” McSweeny said. “It’s true that there’s usually some satire of the Chautauqua experience.”

Directing fellow Patrick Walsh will direct and said he thinks the cabaret will surprise guests.

“It’s a mishmash of things,” Walsh said. “Some of the skit ideas that we are coming up with are about people’s experiences in Chautauqua, but also their experiences on stage.”

Tonight’s Cabaret will give each conservatory member the opportunity to show audiences the hidden talents they may not have been able to demonstrate in their stage roles this season.

“The way I’m taking it is, it’s just about them,” Walsh said. “It’s about the actors and being able to showcase things that people may not know about them.”

This can include anything from monologues to songs the actors enjoy singing, and perhaps some dancing, instruments, favorite Disney tunes and funny Chautauqua-related material.

“I just want them to have a blast,” Walsh said.

Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch said the talents of the conservatory members will make for an entertaining last performance.

“I try to have as little to do with it as possible because I love to be surprised,” Benesch said. “We have always labeled it as a chance to see the unleashed and heretofore unseen talents of the conservatory.”

Benesch added that while she is excited for tonight’s show, the event is also the last time the actors will be together on a Chautauqua stage.

“It’s instant nostalgia for what you’ve just gone through — what you’ve created in these eight to 10 weeks,” Benesch said. “It’s melancholy, because this group of people will never be together again. Many of them will go on to incredible things, and you capture the moment.”

She said another great aspect of this last event of the season is the conservatory members’ energy.

“What I love is how, in an ensemble, trust and shared experience is the key to people unleashing even more than you ever expected,” she said. “This is a particularly special group. The level of talent and professionalism is so high that I would venture to say many of them will not find a company like this again for quite a while.”

Conservatory member Marinda Anderson, who plays Rosaline in “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” said the conservatory’s energy is something she has fed off all season. She said this energy is “very professional, but also it’s very playful and crazy in a great way.”

CTC Season Pak holders have priority seating for tonight’s event; seats are held until 10 minutes before the show starts. After that, it’s first-come, first-served.