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‘Duets’ to feature a cabaret atmosphere at Strauss Theater

By Staff | Nov 18, 2015

Duets will be shown at BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater from Friday, Nov. 20, through Thursday, Dec. 3 starring Jeanette Fitzpatrick and Kathy Brier. ARTWORK PROVIDED

The BIG ARTS season opens this weekend with a very talented cast excited to perform a vast array of songs everyone can relate to during “Duets.”

BIG ARTS Herb Strauss Theater Artistic Director Bobby Logue said the idea of “Duets” came to fruition after thinking about Kathy Brier and Jeanette Fitzpatrick, who he met while attending Wagner College in Staten Island.

“When you are in college and studying theater, everyone kind of obsesses over certain musicals and songs and even if it’s not for class at night, you all sit around and sing all these songs,” Logue said. “That was the training that turned us into the performers that we are today. There are such wonderful memories involved in all of that. So the premise of what we are doing for ‘Duets’ was to kind of get that camaraderie back again. Also get a chance to perform with very spectacularly talented female vocalists.”

The show, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, and runs through Thursday, Dec. 3, is a tribute to duets, where two people on stage share the same emotion, values and goals.

“We had so many years where we shared the same values, and the same goals and built ourselves as performers and people,” Logue said. “Life is a sense of duets because it is a reaction off of the people you spend the most time with. It’s the people that have molded you and influenced you.”

In addition to showcasing the friendship that has developed over the years between the trio, the show will also showcase duets from classic Broadway hits, contemporary hits that have been on the radio, as well as songs dating back to the 50s and 60s.

“These girls have awesome voices, so there might be a solo or two mixed in,” Logue said, who is also singing during the show.

Fitzpatrick, who did not hesitate to take on the role, said “our catalogue is going to be pretty spectacular with the three of us together.”

Logue said the organic playlist is important, especially when they are doing a show geared more towards music presentation cabaret, because it will showcase those on stage having fun.

“That is so contagious in a theater. If the people on stage are comfortable and having fun the audience will go on that ride along with us,” Logue said.

Fitzpatrick said there is going to be a special energy on stage because although she has not seen Brier in a couple of years, there is that built in homecoming that is going to be infectious.

“There is no memorized script, so you can go in and change the story, or introduction to the piece based upon who is in the audience,” she said. “Being a singer is about storytelling, so we are also making sure that we are putting pieces in for the audience, so they will be able to go on this wonderful journey in their memories. Let them relive hopefully heartfelt moments.”

Logue said that will happen because a lot of it will be personal to the three of them.

“There maybe a particular duet that one of the most important days was my sophomore year at the time. This was the song that was playing on the radio when we were going to pick up that paycheck. So they will be our own memories attached to those songs,” he said.

The cabaret style show is recreating Don’t Tell Mama, a famous cabaret bar, in New York City. He said the theater will be transformed into a intimate cabaret with onstage seating with little round tops with two or three chairs at a table.

“It is not a participation show, which means that everyone is safe, they will not be dragged on stage,” Logue said laughing.

For the first time this year, a concession stand will be available in the Presidents Patio at the theater, which will open at 6 p.m.

“We are turning into a patio, cafe kind of vibe,” Logue said. “We have new furniture and new lighting.”

Tickets for the show are $30 for adults and $5 for students and children. They can be purchased at the Strauss Theater box office, 2200 Periwinkle Way, by calling (239) 472-6862, or visiting www.bigarts.org.

Brier, who was the understudy, replaced the original lead in “Hairspray” on Broadway. While she was performing, she was casted in the major role of Marcie Walsh McBain on “One Life to Live.”

Logue said Brier was an extra in the background when she was first casted for “One Life to Live” before the director noticed chemistry between her character and another. Within a month she was one of the major characters on the soap opera while staring on Broadway.

Currently she plays the role of Sophie Tucker on “Boardwalk Empire,” an HBO series, which she won a Grammy award for this year.

“Sophie Tucker is a famous singer from the Vaudeville time. She (Brier) of course sings on the show as well, so they made a collection of all the Sophie Tucker songs that Kathy performed and they released it as a soundtrack for ‘Boardwalk Empire,” Logue said.

Fitzpatrick, who also attended Wagner College, met both Brier and Logue within the first week of her freshman year while performing in “Hello Dolly.”

“It was one of those moments that happened to be very special. Everyone was very supportive, especially of freshmen. When you were only one of three freshmen that got into the show, you kind of needed to learn how to make friends very quickly and understand what you were doing. Bobby became a beloved friend of mine instantly and supported me even after he left to do some professional things,” she said.

Fitzpatrick described herself to be a bonafide working actress.

“I’m a good and very happy working actress,” she said. “I’ve done regional things and I’ve done some international tours.”

A decade ago, Fitzpatrick was in the original cast of “RESPECT: A Musical Journey of Women,” a juke box musical. She also worked in casting in Manhattan for further education.

“I’m obsessed with musical theater. I think it’s one of the coolest things you can actually do,” Fitzpatrick said.

Logue spent a good year and a half on cruise ships immediately following graduation from Wagner College.

“I was very lucky to get a chance to do that and travel the world before I was 22 and I didn’t have to pay for it, which was wonderful,” he said.

He returned to New York after he completed his work on the ships and began performing in some off Broadway shows traveling and touring around America.

“I had the lucky happenstance of walking into an audition in New York City for the Old Schoolhouse Theater on Sanibel Island,” Logue said admitting that he had never heard of the island. “I came down and did a show here and I absolutely loved it.”

The following season, he returned to Sanibel and did two shows. When he turned 30 years old he returned to Sanibel once again to choreograph a show. He fell in love with the community feel he experienced during Hurricane Wilma and knew Sanibel is where he needed to be.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.