What a sight for sore eyes — and ears and hearts. A sterling quintet of singers gathered on a makeshift stage in the loading dock of the Ordway Center last weekend for a selection of songs from the Ordway's recent and upcoming seasons.
Rajané Katurah sang "I'm Here," from "The Color Purple," which was just about to open before the pandemic shut it down. That number, measured but determined, was a declaration of hope and resilience for these uncertain times.
Jamecia Bennett, the Grammy-winning lead of the Sounds of Blackness, belted the title song from "Beauty and the Beast," a show whose opening has been pushed back.
Directed by Rod Kaats and featuring pianist Sanford Moore's flawless musical accompaniment, the event featured relative newcomer Reese Britts, who acts his songs as much as he sings them.
The roster of singing actors drew from "Rent," "Waitress" and "An Officer and a Gentleman," songs that were moving not just because Ben Bakken poured out his heart and soul with his delivery or because Ruthanne Heyward, making her Ordway debut, invested her phrasing with deep emotion and meaning.
The numbers captured a socially distant audience hungry for live performance. It has been a long six months since performers and patrons alike have been together like this. And even though it felt a bit strange, it also was reassuring. We will get through this, the singers intimated.
Some audience members teared up, joy salting their eyes and spirits. And while the crowd had donors and supporters in the know, passersby also stopped to take in the show, including regulars of the nearby Dorothy Day Center. They sat across the street.
The cabaret was the first of what promises to be more shows at the loading dock this fall, The cabaret runs again at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. When that event quickly sold out, performances were added at 4 p.m. on Oct. 10 and 11. Tickets to those shows are $40 at Ordway.org.