With its physical home at the Lucie Stern Theatre still off limits, Palo Alto Players is filling its fall season with performances regardless. The 90-year-old organization is now offering a "Homebound Cabaret" series — three shows featuring local artists streaming online.
In time for Halloween, the first, "Once Upon a Midnight Dreary," is a macabre and spooky-themed cabaret, which opened Oct. 23 and runs again on Oct. 29, 30 and 31 at 8 p.m. (recordings are also available for 24 hours after broadcast).
Joey McDaniel, a familiar face at Palo Alto Players' productions, is singing Danny Elfman's "Jack's Lament" from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" in the show. The song, he told this news organization, which is all about the internal struggle between the daily grind and the desire for something new, "feels appropriate in a time when we're sheltering in our apartments and the days, weeks, and months are all starting to feel the same."
Artist Marah Sotelo, who was a standout performer in Palo Alto Players' production of "Flower Drum Song" in 2019, will be singing a song from "Beetlejuice the Musical" and said she's had fun experimenting with her husband (a filmmaker and producer at Google) to create their own set and look at home to complement the spooky theme.
"Not having a live audience is very challenging," she said. "Theaters like Palo Alto Players are getting really creative during this time and providing online content, which is fabulous! But I really do miss the magic of live theater."
The second in the series, coming up Nov. 13-22 will be "If You Knew My Story," which, according to a press release, "relishes in the meeting of passion, self worth, and broken barriers." And Dec. 4-13 will usher in "Holiday Family Sing Along," offering a selection of classic and offbeat seasonal tunes that viewers can sing and dance along with, including early show times to make it more accessible for families with young children. Tickets to all the cabaret shows are $20 each, or $50 for the series. Check online for individual dates and times.
Since the pandemic hit, closing theaters, putting artists out of work and/or forcing them to reimagine how and what they do, “it’s been difficult to understand how we can safely continue to share our particular brand of human connection," McDaniel said. Being a part of the "Homebound Cabaret” project is a way to stay connected and reach out to the community.
"If that means staying at home and singing a song about a conflicted skeleton for the time being, so be it," he said. "I know that when it is safe to do so, Palo Alto Players will be there to bring us all together inside of the theater again."
More information is available at paplayers.org.