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Wicked Musical cast, who are in Appleton through Feb. 20, are presenting a Valentine’s Day evening of music, dance and comedy that has heart in more ways than one.

Tomorrow, On Monday, cast and crew members from the touring musical “Wicked” are volunteering to transform the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center’s Kimberly-Clark Theater into a New York City-style cabaret.

“Our ‘Wicked’ Romance: A Jazz Cabaret” also is a fundraiser to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the PAC’s mission-based programming. During its five years on the road, the touring company has raised more than $1 million for charities including Broadway Cares, which has brought in more than $150 million for AIDS-related resources around the nation since its genesis in 1988.

“They’re incredibly talented performers and to see them up there really having fun and letting loose and singing songs they really like is a very unique opportunity,” said Maria Van Laanen, the PAC’s executive vice president. “It is them giving up their one day off (in the week) to do this performance. They are doing this really because they believe in the cause and they want to make a difference. It’s just such a unique electric event.”

The cabaret event begins at 8 p.m. Monday at the PAC in downtown Appleton. Doors open at 7 p.m. for silent and live auctions with chances to bid on “Wicked” memorabilia, backstage opportunities and a walk-on role with Wicked at the PAC. Tickets start at $45.

In the intimate setting of the black-box theater, tables seat two to four people.

“You are able to have wine and dessert with you during the performance so it gives you that New York nightclub kind of feel,” Van Laanen said. “The actors who perform really have fun with it. It’s like a jam session you would see when you’re out at a club.”

The event is part of an ongoing series of cabaret performances that the company performs at tour stops. Each one is different than the next, but the common thread is that all contribute to the fundraising efforts for Broadway Cares and various causes in tour-stop communities.

“Just like anyone else, we want to contribute to charities in our communities, but our communities are spread all around the country,” said Peter Van Dyke, production stage manager of “Wicked.” “We try to (do) that wherever we go.”

This is the PAC’s second “Wicked” cabaret. When “Wicked” experienced its Wisconsin premiere in 2009 at the PAC, the company treated audiences to a Beatles tribute.

Van Laanen said the funds for the PAC will help support initiatives including educational programs for students, community engagement activities that connect audiences with performances and their themes and nonprofits’ subsidized use of the facility.

“It really helps us with the money we are to raise each year through a special event,” Van Laanen said.

She said this season the cabaret especially is a boon to the PAC after the cancellation of veteran performer Liza Minnelli’s Oct. 22 show at the PAC. Minnelli had released a statement saying her doctor had ordered her to cancel seven shows, including Appleton’s, because of a bout of bronchial pneumonia.

A portion of the proceeds from Minnelli’s Appleton show, a pre-show dinner and post-show reception were to help support PAC programs.

“…When that went away we needed to find a new way to meet those targets,” Van Laanen said. “This (cabaret) is one of the ways. We’re definitely just grateful.”

Van Dyke plays master of ceremonies and auctioneer for the cabaret.

“We’ll be auctioning off a couple of chances to come backstage,” Van Dyke said. “One is a chance to watch Elphaba get green, which is always a fun thing. The other is a backstage tour with Glinda. Each of those comes with a pair of tickets to the show.”

The cast and crew also have contributed to the auctions a sampling of show souvenirs – costumes and props that have reached their limits of use onstage. Other items include posters signed by the “Wicked” cast and creative team.

Company members came together to create the program, a musical revue of jazz standards and romantic ballads that includes solos, duets and at least one ensemble number.

“All the songs are all jazz arrangements that we’ve found and have collaborated with the music director about,” said Stefanie Brown, who plays Elphaba’s sister Nessarose in “Wicked.” “As long as we could find the sheet music to it and get the musicians on board, we could do it.”

Brown supplies the cabaret’s closing number, “Someone to Watch Over Me.” “It’s kind of like a slow song to end it on a romantic note,” she said. The best part about the evening, Brown said, is the dance floor below the stage.

“We want people to participate and get up and slow dance,” she said. “And then we have a couple fast numbers that will be fun to jive with.”


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2 Responses to “Wicked cast to roll out cabaret-style Valentine show in Fox Cities Performing Arts Center”

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Buy Tickets to see Wicked!

Buy Tickets to see Wicked!