The Green Door Cabaret kicked off their new season earlier this month, and this past weekend welcomed home soprano and Canadian favourite Rebecca Caine for a special one night only concert that was a delightful evening of comedy, stories and song.
Ms. Caine is best known to Toronto audiences for originating the role of Christine in our production of The Phantom of the Opera, as well as being the original Cosette in the UK production of Les Miserables. She has had an illustrious career as a singer, including releasing many successful solo albums that compliment the work she has done on the stage.
The art of cabaret is something that a lot of the up and coming generations haven’t fully embraced yet, and seems to remain a bit of a mystery to people who have grown up in the technological age. At its finest, cabaret is a beautiful expression of music and heart. A sharing of stories and emotion that usually occurs between a singer and an accompanist, but draws in the entire audience as well. The Green Door series excels at cabaret, and Ms. Caine was no exception.
Beginning the evening with a few witty anecdotes about her career, the first act consisted of honouring divas from generations gone by. With each song came a unique and witty story, such that the audience received a history lesson and an insight into Ms. Caine’s personality while enjoying the wonderful music. She began the evening with Coward and concluded with Lerner and Loewe, and every song in between was as unique and heartfelt as the one before. One of the many highlights included a delightfully hilarious and powerful rendition of Just You Wait from My Fair Lady, including a witty homage to Dame Julie Andrews (who originated the role).
For Act II Ms. Caine delved into material from the ‘mega-musicals’ which made her famous. This is where I feel that the younger members of the audience were able to appreciate and learn a bit about why cabaret is so special. Many of them had clearly ventured out to the show because of their memories of Ms. Caine from her Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera days, and they quickly become enraptured by the stories she would tell to accompany each song. That is what makes a night like this so special. There is something remarkable about getting to hear one of your childhood idols sing the music you grew up with, and something even more remarkable about feeling like you get to be a part of an ‘inside joke’ that developed out of those roles.
I would be remiss to spoil any of the wonderful jokes and anecdotes Ms. Caine used to dazzle the audience, but suffice it to say that everyone learned a little bit more about the performer as well as some of those people who played integral roles in developing and producing the mega-musicals for which she is known.
Near the end of the second act Ms. Caine invited a very special guest on stage, her original Canadian Raoul, Byron Nease. She told a touching story of their friendship and history (which spawns nearly thirty years) as well as some of Mr. Nease’s personal background, including his thirty year battle with HIV and his personal memoir which she encouraged the audience to read. When the two finally sung their Phantom duet All I Ask of You, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. They performed it without microphones and their voices soared throughout the beautiful Green Door. It was one of those unique moments in theatre where the audience knew they were witnessing something special, and everyone joined in on the emotion the two were sharing with eachother and with those in attendance.
Ms. Caine ended the evening with a stunning encore performance of the Les Miserables hit Bring Him Home, and told a beautiful tale of pilots fighting in Afghanistan who sing that tune when they carry the wounded soldiers out of the battle fields.
At the end of the evening Robert Missen (the Artistic Director of The Green Door Cabaret) took to the stage to thank and congratulate both Ms. Caine and Mr. Nease, as well as to encourage people to explore the other wonderful programming the Green Door will be offering this year. His enthusiasm for cabaret was infectious, and I believe he definitely won over this particular audience. There’s much to look forward to in the months to come, including a salute to Porgy and Bess and a tribute to jazz that will occur during The Toronto Jazz Festival. One thing is certain, if you haven’t experienced good cabaret, there’s no excuse to continue to miss out. Be sure to check out The Green Door series, and support our wonderful Canadian artists.