Most of my life is spent in academia and theatre, two worlds that in most ways aren’t much alike, yet they share the same strange calendar: every year, the world starts up in early September, and ends in May. June, July and August? Closed for business.
Well, not really closed. Academics use the summer for research (in some cases, “research”). Theatre companies spend the time ramping up for the season, and during these months sometimes can make money by renting out their space for other uses.
Still, it’s hard not to see the notion of summers off as quaint, rooted in circumstances (no air conditioning, mothers who didn’t work and took the kids away for long vacations) that no longer apply.
But if it’s true that summer comes with more down time – wouldn’t that make it a perfect time for more entertainment options? It would be for me. In October or April, I can barely squeeze anything into my schedule, and I have to miss a lot. In June and July, I’m longing for something fun to do.
Luckily, Jeff Coon is here to fix it. Jeff is well known in Philadelphia as one of our most likeable and gifted leading men – especially charming in musicals, where he can put his beautiful baritone to work. Now he’s an entrepreneur as well.
Jeff’s project – so simple, so smart – is a series of cabaret entertainment evenings at Cape May. These combine music and comedy, and sometimes are organized loosely around a theme. They are staged at the Cape May Convention Hall, in a space that can be configured to suit the event — some performances are done supperclub style, with tables, while others use a more proscenium kind of staging. Either way, the view is pretty stunning – a floor-to-ceiling backround window provides an Atlantic Ocean vista.
For this innaugural year, the series is introduced with three performances. The first took place in July, and was exceptionally well received and reviewed. Still to come are cabarets on August 16th and 30th. Each will be a mixed program with both songs and comedy.
For Jeff, these evenings serve several worthy purposes. He’s a Cape May native, and he gets to perform on home turf. It also supports the beautiful local theatre center, which sometimes is underutilzed in the summer months.
Jeff has also drafted many of his talented buddies to take part – they include Fran Prisco, Jennifer Hope Wills, Dave Jadico, Erin Maguire, JP Dunphy, Kristine Fraelich and many other familiar Philly performers – who also benefit from the opportunity.
I asked Jeff what his dream for the future would be. “A cabaret performance every weekend in the summer.” How nice that would be for audiences, too, especially since the questionable future of the Prince Music Theater might rob Philadelphia of its most prominent cabaret venue. (Cabaret is an endangered art form – but that’s a larger subject for another time.)
Here’s hoping that these “Summer Club” concerts (as they’re officially called) are part of trend – several trends, really: revitalized cabaret, more shows in interesting venues, and a better equalized arts calendar.
In fact, let’s encourage a whole new arts calendar — one that runs all twelve months. It will be good for everybody — audiences, performers, companies. Earlier this year, Philadelphia’s Flashpoint Theatre broke with traditional scheduling, and offered their two productions in the Summer– one in June, the other in July. I attended the second – Herringbone – on a weeknight performance that was packed to the rafters.
Summer Club Concerts
Cape May Convention Hall
August 16th & 30