This is a reprint of my remarks about “Songs for Nobodies” at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater presented in their Stackner Cabaret during the 2018 – 2019 season. This originally appeared on my Facebook timeline on September 15, 2018! My first post about theater…so I was a little nervous.
I have putting off writing about Songs for Nobodies partly because I was afraid that I would give too much away and didn’t want to pepper this post with spoiler alerts. But since the JSOnline review pretty much tells the whole thing…I can say all the cool things that I want to say!
I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out. The lead has to become ten different characters over the period of about 90 minutes. And oh my goodness, but Bethany Thomas is absolutely mesmerizing! Really!!! The songs featured are identified with five female vocalists from the 20th Century who set the bar for their peers and those that followed later in each of their respective genres: Judy Garland, Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday and Maria Callas. She performed those songs flawlessly…moving easily from one vocal style to the other. Her accents and ability to evoke the styles of each was perfect. After the Piaf portion, I was convinced the Ms. Thomas was a native French speaker. Just a medley of these songs by Ms. Thomas would be worth the price of admission.
But she also presents the ‘Nobodies’ of the title. Five average women, living their lives, working their professions, who were touched in some way by these five celebrities. This presents an entirely new set of personalities and accents and attitudes for Ms. Thomas to slip into beyond the songs. And real stories…with philosophies…and history…and personal desires…and angst. Far beyond the expectations of a cabaret exposition.
I often skip performances at the Stackner…too lazy to fit them in my schedule. But I am certainly glad that I was able to take in this one. It is really ‘a don’t’ miss event of the season. And the Milwaukee Repertory Theater did a great job of casting when they selected Bethany Thomas for this role.
Now, I want to make an additional note. The show rocks because pianist Abdul Hamid rocks. He effortlessly provided the accompaniment for each and every song…didn’t miss a beat…and he made sure we felt the era and feeling behind each song. Too bad there isn’t a tip jar for the piano player!
Last but not least, when you go, make reservations in the Stackner before the show and have dinner there. The new venue and the new menu are a real treat. And the servers go out of their way to please! Do it for your own enjoyment, you won’t be sorry!!