Cabaret dreams and thwarted loveDeborah Cheadle takes the stage as chanteuse.
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:47 PM
"The setting will be Island Center Hall, but the sound is urban.Cabaret singer Deborah Cheadle will transport the audience at her May 4 performance to a hole-in-the-wall piano bar in New York City, with songs of love, loss and longing.I've always been drawn to songs about the difficulty we have opening our hearts, said Cheadle, a long-time island resident. Here, I'm actually telling very specific stories about my thwarted love attempts since eighth grade.She regards cabaret as primarily a storytelling form, one in which the lyrics are key and the show is shaped thematically. It's analogous to constructing a theater piece. But unlike the actor, who functions at a remove behind theater's fourth wall, the singer makes an intimate connection with the audience.The cabaret form can encompass a broad range of music. Cheadle's selections run from Rogers and Hart to Randy Newman, from Dorothy Fields to Tom Waits. The story is the consideration - not stylistic consistency.Cabaret singers, she says, are not a gregarious lot. It may seem fitting that the road for singers of this personalized and solipsistic genre be a rather solitary one. Cheadle finds connection with Helene Smart, another Bainbridge cabaret singer who helps Cheadle shape shows and with whom she has shared a stage.Cheadle goes online to converse with like-minded performers. She spends hours listening to online sound clips, and also receives a cabaret e-zine.That's how I hear new songs and arrangements of songs, she said.Cheadle also attends an annual cabaret convention at Town Hall in Manhattan - although, she is relegated, as an out-of-towner with no pull, to the balcony seat. There is also a lyricists' workshop series at the famed New York City venue, the 92nd Street Y and a cabaret symposium in Connecticut.Cheadle, who started singing cabaret a decade ago, has performed at fundraisers, corporate annual dinners and private parties. She has also sung at such Seattle venues as the Ruins, Hamburger Mary's on Capitol Hill, and Crepe de Paris.To line up the park district's First Fridays gig, Cheadle simply responded to a newspaper ad calling for performers. Once the date was set, she began shaping the context for the performance. I do upbeat songs and funny songs as part of this show, Cheadle said. But I think at the deepest level, it's about the different ways we guard our hearts. And, to quote the line from the song about my two grandmothers: 'Don't wait for good things to happen, because spring will turn to fall in just no time at all.'Cheadle, accompanied on piano by Dehner Franks, and joined for a duet by Seve Stolee, shares the the First Fridays venue with jazz musicians Harry Holbert, Jherek Bischoff and Korum Bischoff at 7:30 p.m. May 4 at Island Center Hall. Tickets are $7/adults and $5/youths ages 6-18, with refreshments by the Bainbridge Island Teen Center. Call 842-2306. "