SB Symphony returns to The Granada
The Santa Barbara Symphony is back.
And Saturday is opening night.
Due to COVID-19 crowd restrictions prohibiting live in-person concerts, the symphony will return with the digital streaming event “Cabaret with Kabaretti,” a program giving the symphony’s fans an up-close and personal look as it plays through classics of the Great American Songbook.
On Wednesday evening at the Granada Theatre, the News-Press received a behind-the-scenes peek at the symphony rehearsing its set and filming takes to be used in Saturday’s broadcast.
Music and artistic director Nir Kabaretti conducted the ensemble, which had its string players socially distanced and the drummer and brass players behind plexiglass barriers.
At stage right stood Broadway star Lisa Vroman, singing soprano vocals on whole and partial renditions of songs like “Think of Me” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” and Victor Herbert’s “Art is Calling for Me.”
After the ensemble did several starting-and-stopping renditions to make adjustments to its performance, the cameras rolled and Mr. Kabaretti led the symphony and Ms. Vroman in complete run throughs.
The performances were shot from several different angles and will be edited so the viewers at home can see Mr. Kabaretti and his musicians in an up-close way they don’t get to see when seated in The Granada.
For Santa Barbara Symphony interim CEO Kathryn Martin, the fact that “Cabaret with Kabaretti” is finally happening is a “dream come true.”
There was no shortage of obstacles that the symphony needed to overcome and people it had to consult with to get the show off of the ground.
According to Ms. Martin, the road to taping opening night involved working painstakingly with the likes of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and experts who assessed The Granada’s airflow and advised on how to set up the stage.
Ms. Vroman singing on the right side of the stage was a decision made based on the advice the airflow experts gave, as was having the musicians take a break every 30 minutes during the taping to clear out the auditorium.
Throughout the pandemic, many performing arts venues and companies have been hit hard financially, and the Santa Barbara Symphony is no exception. Ms. Martin expressed gratitude for the Santa Barbara community’s generosity in keeping the Symphony and The Granada going.
“We’re going into opening night with 100% of our direct costs covered,” Ms. Martin said. “The community here is incredible and really supportive.”
Saturday’s broadcast will be a fundraiser for The Granada and symphony.
For the orchestra’s opening night, Mr. Kabaretti wanted the show to emphasize entertaining music that would give music lovers a feeling of connection amid the pandemic. Thus, he chose cabaret, which he described as “an intimate genre” characterized by fun music and storytelling.
In a statement the maestro said, “Knowing that we won’t have an audience in the hall, the storytelling became very important, and the Cabaret is a perfect format to share the story of the music by showcasing our friend and Broadway star Lisa Vroman, our symphony, the beautiful Granada theater and our local celebrity Leslie Zemeckis.”
A renowned Broadway and opera soprano, Ms. Vroman is known for starring as Christine Daaé in “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway for several years. She has also starred as Lili Vanessi in Glimmerglass Opera and the MUNY Theater of St. Louis’ production of “Kiss Me Kate,” and Marian Paroo in “The Music Man” at the Bushnell Theatre in Hartford, Conn.
In Saturday’s broadcast, Ms. Vroman will sing numbers such as “Think of Me” from “The Phantom of the Opera,” “So in Love” from “Kiss Me Kate,” “The Trolley Song” from “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “I Could Have Danced all Night” from “My Fair Lady, Leonard Bernstein’s “Some Other Time” and George Gershwin’s “By Strauss.”
Hosting will be local resident Leslie Zemeckis, an actress, singer, author and wife of “Back to the Future” director Robert Zemeckis.
A huge fan of the Santa Barbara Symphony, Ms. Zemeckis told the News-Press she “leapt at the opportunity” to host the show when Mr. Kabaretti asked her to do it after seeing her host another digital cabaret show.
While she was present at The Granada on Wednesday evening, Ms. Zemeckis had already shot her host segments on the previous day. The actress told the News-Press that coming up with the words for her segments was collaborative and that she was allowed to throw in some local historical information.
“They let me throw in a bit of history as I am a big history buff and I really wanted the Santa Barbara community to feel good about ourselves as a community that has gone through so much,” she said.
Ms. Zemeckis will also be singing one number during the show, the title of which she has decided to keep under wraps until opening night. However, she did say the song is from a character that she has played live for many years, a character she described as “quite fun,” “a little naughty” and who “speaks a lot of truths.”
Prior to the show beginning at 7 p.m., there will be a half hour of pre-show activities. These will include interviews and instruction on how to mix the event’s signature cocktail.
To make “Cabaret with Kabaretti” feel like a night out on the town from one’s own home, the symphony has partnered with DUO Catering, which is preparing a cabaret-inspired meal and cocktail that viewers can order for takeout. While viewers can’t order a complete cocktail to go, DUO will provide the mixes and garnishes necessary to make it at home.
During the show’s intermission, Ms. Martin will interview the symphony’s musicians and ask them how it feels to finally be playing together after so long apart. The CEO remarked that the musicians were emotional when answering her questions and called Wednesday’s taping of “Cabaret with Kabaretti” “a homecoming.”
“Cabaret with Kabaretti” will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday, with pre-show activities starting earlier at 6:30 p.m. Viewers can start tuning in at 6 p.m., when the show’s countdown clock begins.
The show will be broadcast again on Sunday, with the countdown clock beginning at 2 p.m. Pre-show activities will start at 2:30 p.m., and the performance will start at 3 p.m.
Tickets for “Cabaret with Kabaretti” can be bought at granadasb.org. After the purchase, viewers get a link to the broadcast page.