Life is a cabaret.
At least, it has been for the small cast of Scottsdale Musical Theater Company’s (SMTC) cabaret-style series, which has taken place every Saturday evening at Scottsdale Plaza Resort since March.
It’s a live theater series that has been so popular that SMTC has extended the revue another month.
“We knew this was going to be an experiment, and I certainly didn’t expect to be sold out every night,” says SMTC Executive Producer David Hock. “It’s truly been amazing.”
SMTC’s cabaret-style musical revue continues this month at Scottsdale Plaza Resort with a new show, “Best of Broadway: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.”
Guests will be treated to songs from Webber’s most popular musicals, including “Evita,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Cats” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
“Rodgers & Hammerstein is by far the most nostalgic of Broadway musicals. Andrew Lloyd Webber is by far the most popular,” Hock says of choosing Webber’s music for the next set of shows.
“I think people will be surprised to hear so many songs that they didn’t realize were Andrew Lloyd Webber, or even that some of the songs even existed.”
Shows are scheduled for every Saturday this month, and tickets are $25. The revue will feature Elizabeth Blair, Nicki Bond, Hector Coris, Christopher Gonzalez, Taylor Hogan, Matt Newhard, Estrella Paloma Parra and Zack Wells, with musical direction and keyboards handled by Josh Hontz and percussion by Shawn Jordan.
“We’re just hoping to really expand everyone’s appreciation of the impact of his music,” Hock says.
Since March, SMTC has transformed the resort’s La Valencia space into a “cabaret/nightclub feel” with cocktail tables, full-service bar, and a raised stage with full lighting and sound.
And it’ll continue to do so for May’s shows.
“It follows a long-held tradition for stage performers that removes the confines of being in a large theater on stage as a character in costume to allow moments between singer-and-song and singer-and-audience that creates a more intimate connection to the music and the audience, providing a uniquely wonderful and entertaining experience,” Hock says.
Seating will be spread out, and up to four people will remain at their own cocktail table.
“Audiences have been very receptive to the format and have appreciated our attention in providing as safe of an environment with socially distanced seating, etc.,” Hock says.
“We can see people’s head swaying to the music, and we can hear people singing along. I think audience members are really enjoying the ability to just sit and have a drink and relax while enjoying hearing all of this great music.”
May’s revue follows two months of sold-out shows at the resort. Both months featured songs by Rodgers & Hammerstein, the duo behind “Oklahoma!” “The King & I” and “The Sound of Music.”
“I was hopeful, but yes, I’m very pleasantly surprised,” Hock says. “The response has been in part due to people feeling a little more comfortable venturing out now that they’ve had both vaccine shots. There is no doubt that people are so eager to get out and do something.”
SMTC is no stranger to Scottsdale Plaza Resort. Hock partnered with the resort in 2017 and sends his celebrity guest stars to stay there.
SMTC has also held rehearsals for a number of its shows at the resort and its Christmas party for its “A Christmas Carol” cast.
“After a year of not being able to do shows, I approached Travis Giles, the resort vice president, about doing cabaret-style shows. We had discussed this idea a couple of years ago, and it just didn’t happen then,” Hock says.
Hosting them a year into a pandemic felt like “the perfect time to get live performing happening again.”
And they were — and still are — a hit.
“I really wasn’t sure how popular it would be,” Hock says. “There hasn’t really been this type of cabaret-style musical theater revue here in Phoenix.
“Audiences are really embracing this format and thoroughly enjoying their evening out.”
Now, with the success of the cabaret-style shows, SMTC plans to continue to host the Saturday night revues, as scheduling allows.
“The Plaza Resort has been a great partner,” Hock says. “My hope is there is a strong enough response that we’ll need to extend (the Webber shows) for an additional month. Beyond that, we will plan the next revue and just keep on going for as long as our audiences keep coming back and enjoying themselves.”
Other possible shows include an evening of Stephen Sondheim, an evening of Irving Berlin, and an evening of Cole Porter.
“It is quite gratifying,” Hock says of bringing live musical theater back to Scottsdale. “And I think my performers have been just as excited as the audiences.”
Hock calls this cabaret-style format a “baby step” to getting back to “normal” after nearly one year and a half of silent, shuttered stages and theaters.
“And no one still knows when large-scale musicals will be back up and running,” he says. “So, until that time arrives, I’m glad that we’re able to offer audiences a chance to hear their favorite Broadway songs in a live setting.”
“Best of Broadway: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber”
When: 7:30 p.m. (doors) and 8 p.m. (showtime) Saturdays in May
Where: The Scottsdale Plaza Resort, 7200 N. Scottsdale Road