Cabaret show celebrates local "Leading Ladies"

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

The Williamsburg Players are mixing up their repertoire with “Leading Ladies,” a cabaret show celebrating Broadway’s most memorable tunes and the dynamic divas behind them. The collaborative effort aims to highlight local talent.

“I tried to choose a diverse group of vocalists,” said director Jeffrey Seyller. “They all have unique qualities that will be highlighted throughout the show. It is a seasoned group of ladies that have all performed professionally in the area and throughout the country.”

That group includes Yorktown native Tiffany Haas, who garnered national attention performing the role of Glinda in “Wicked” on Broadway.

She said she’s excited to tackle the cabaret performance because it’s a different experience compared with musicals, where the concrete story acts as a sort of wall between the performers and the audience.

“You’re connecting with the audience in a very different way where there’s a wall,” Haas said. “With cabaret, that wall is gone. You’re able to really be yourself on stage.”

Seyller met Haas two years ago after she’d moved back to the area from New York City. They hit it off, and he enjoyed seeing her perform at the Ferguson Center for the Arts and the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts.

“Not only is she an amazing and versatile singer, she is a stunning and a captivating performer,” Seyller said, adding came to mind when he was working to create the cabaret show earlier this year. “She was available and very excited to perform locally again.”

Local talent on display

The performance is in line with her desire to give back to the community. In April, Haas joined with the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra League for for a benefit concert dubbed “A Broadway Bash.”

Haas takes center stage for the cabaret’s second act, during which she celebrates music that’s inspired her throughout her career. But act one features eight women, each of whom has their own piece to perform. Co-stars include Players board member Marcia Dadds, Caitlin Fitzhugh, Shawna Lawhorn, Shannon Oliver Leyko, Angelica Michelle, Elizabeth Joy Terrell, Christina Westenberger and Valerie Zangardi.

“I think their diversity and exceptional stage presence with amazing vocals complement each other,” Seyller said.

The show features selections from Tony Award-winning works such as “My Fair Lady,” “Gypsy,” “The Chorus Line” and “The Color Purple.” They celebrate Broadway icons such as Patti Lupone, Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald and Idina Menzel. Haas said the audience will recognize many of the tunes as the local ladies revive them.

“It’s filled with local talent,” Haas said. “Anyone who comes to the show is able to connect with local talent. You don’t have to go to New York City to have a great cabaret experience.”

She also praised the director’s vision, which expands upon a smaller scale cabaret series he directed last year.

“What’s great about Jeffrey is he loves theater,” she said. “He loves musicals. He loves music. He also loves the community.”

The cabaret performances are a means to connect with that community. Haas hopes it will be a regular occurrence.

“It can be something that’s happening here in Hampton Roads,” she said. “The talent is here; the audience is here.”

Although she lived in the Big Apple for more than a decade, where she came from never left the forefront of her heart.

“I think the area will embrace this whole idea,” Haas said. “It really suits Williamsburg. I just see this being a really great thing.”

Want to go?

“Leading Ladies” takes the stage at 8 p.m. Sept. 29-30 and 2 p.m. Oct. 1-2 at the James-York Playhouse, 200 Hubbard Lane. As a special event, it is not included in the Players’ season subscription. Tickets are $25. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 229-0431 or visit williamsburgplayers.org.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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