Cabaret series kicks off with 'History Lessons"

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com

Turns out the lobby of James-York Playhouse has great acoustics.

With some added seating and tables, the lobby will become a lounge this weekend to kick off the Williamsburg Players' Cabaret Series.

"History Lessons: A Rock Cabaret," the first of three in the series, includes selections from six Tony Award-winning shows — including "Hamilton," the hugely popular historical musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

"Hamilton is the craze," said Jeffrey Seyller, director of the cabaret series. "I really wanted to bring some Hamilton because no one in the area has touched it."

Seyller said he worked with the Williamsburg Players' board on the idea, exploring entertainment options beyond mainstage shows. And the lobby, he said, "actually has awesome, awesome acoustics."

"We talked about maybe doing a cabaret. That turned into a cabaret series. And then I kind of took it from there," Seyller said. "All of the cabarets will center around Broadway-style music, but all of them have a very different subject and content."

The first, of course, highlights history. Eight vocalists, including Seyller and musical director Jonathan McCormick, will sing favorites from "Hamilton," "Les Miserables," "Sweeney Todd," "Jekyll and Hyde," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Rent," which Seyller chose because it's based loosely on "La Bohéme."

The two remaining cabarets include December's "The Music of Jason Robert Brown" and next February's "Crazy Ever After," featuring music from "Next to Normal" and "Spring Awakening," among other shows.

As the first cabaret housed in the Playhouse lobby, Seyller said performances Friday and Saturday will be the test run, in a way, with only 80 seats planned. He hopes to captures the intimacy of an authentic cabaret experience.

It's performance on a smaller, though no less powerful scale, he said. "There are definitely many show-stopping moments within the cabaret."

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

Want to go?

When: 8 p.m., Oct. 14 and 15.

Where: James-York Playhouse, 200 Hubbard Lane.

At $18 each, limited tickets are available. Call 757-229-0431 or visit williamsburgplayers.org.

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