BWW is thrilled to continue its Christmas Cabaret feature with an interview with Thom Allison. Thom is fresh off a very busy year starring in the critically acclaimed Shaw Festival production of Ragtime and being a judge of CBC's Over the Rainbow.
He returns to his first love, cabaret, this holiday season with a show at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre entitled 'Shut Up! It's Christmas!'. Sassy and fun, the evening promises to entertain and put you in a festive mood. We spoke to Thom about what cabaret means to him, how he tweaked his show for the holiday season and why his show is going to be 'maniacally gleeful':
Tell us about 'Shut Up! It's Christmas! It sounds sassy...
I love Christmas! I love everything about Christmas - the food, the friends, the parties, and especially the music. I love Christmas carols - old and new. So I wanted to sing some carols with my own sense of the season - the goofy, the traditional, the irreverent - and share a great time with a group of people.
Will this be a good cabaret show for those of us who get a little Christmas-d out early in the season?
Oh this will be THE show for the peeps who are over Christmas by the 15. It's not just standards. It will be maniacally gleeful. My joy has always been infectious and when it comes to Christmas, I'm positively impish. And the second act is going to be a whole different kind of Christmas journey.
What does cabaret mean to you and how do you tweak a traditional cabaret to make it suitable for the holidays?
To me, cabaret is the 'live-est' of live experiences. It's where there are no rules. You can be as free-form and/or irreverent or shocking or thrilling or imaginative as you care to be. There are no holds barred. You can say things, address issues (cabaret has such a huge political history), climb the walls, - as long as you're entertaining in some way. I think that makes cabaret 'cabaret' - it's not traditional. You can't say it's this or that. So the holidays just become another topic to be played with, addressed, jostled about, opened up, poked fun at and celebrated. Thus my title, Shut Up, It's Christmas!
Will there be any special guests at your show?
Oh yes, indeed, the wonderful Sara Farb will be joining me on the heels of her critically acclaimed performance as the daughter in Next to Normal at Theatre Calgary and The Citadel in Edmonton. And there will also be a very special guest from the North Pole but it's not who think it is, and this guest has some stories to tell.
You've been a very busy boy this year - returning from Broadway and going right into the Shaw Festival and then a guest judge on Over the Rainbow - what made you decide to return to Cabaret for the holidays and what are you most excited for?
It's been an extraordinary year and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. But I will always decide to return to cabaret. My personality is full of such goofy contradictions and cabaret gives me the opportunity to let my inner cartoon run wild. And I love playing with music and my voice and characters. I can go to extremes in my material. I'm most excited to share some ideas and fun and laughs with my audience and maybe see if there is a touring version of a Christmas show in the evening.
What's your favourite holiday tune and why?
My favourite sacred holiday tune is O HOLY NIGHT- it is filled with such awe and musically it's thrilling. My favourite non-secular tune is HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS - such a perfect little jewel of a song - longing, hopeful, great melody, aching lyric - it's delicious.
What holiday tune makes you want to yell 'shut up!'?
CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE - Charlie Brown Christmas is my favourite holiday show. It was so sweet and funny yet melancholy - so complicated for a children's show and then that amazing jazzy score by Vince Guaraldi. This song is simple and perfect. Gives you the moodiness (happy yet a little sad) and beauty of children and Christmas - you can feel the early evening in it, the snow, the light dimming. Amazing.
Finally, have you been naughty or nice this year???
Depends on who's been paying attention!