While their seats remain temporarily vacant, Murray's Playhouse in the Park moved to the virtual stage to present an online cabaret. Performers from all over the country will perform songs centered around equality, justice, and inclusion. PIP executive director, Lisa Cope, and music director of United cabaret, Stephen Keene, speak to Tracy Ross about their upcoming performance.
After COVID-19 shut down performance spaces across the country, Playhouse began exploring the possibility of virtual revues and group discussions. "Then, with Black Lives Matter and all that's gone on, that led to some really great conversations with a lot of us," Cope explains. "Particularly, Stephen and I kept going back to this conversation: what does the theatre need to do? How can the theatre be an advocate?"
"When you go to the theatre, everybody's included," Keene adds. "It doesn't matter who it is and what your background is, what your sexuality is, what your gender is, what your race is. Everybody's included. Theatre's not the problem because they are inclusive, and they are people that want equality for everybody. [We thought] if we can put on this cabaret and just show everybody that, maybe that would be helpful."
The cabaret features 24 acts and 35 performers from Kentucky, New York, Texas, Illinois, and Oklahoma. "It all revolves around this theme of equality and unity and joining together and what that looks like and what our dreams are for that," Cope says. "Some of the songs are just fun, but still carry that message. I cried a few times last night during rehearsal. It's very powerful, particularly with this message."
An invitation to the cabaret can be found on Playhouse in the Park's Facebook page, but the performance itself will be held via Zoom. "Anyone can join. You don't have to tell us ahead of time," Cope adds. "We will a couple of times ask for donations to Playhouse, but really, it's more about the message we're trying to get out there. We want to be a part of the answer to some of the questions that we need to ask right now. It's free. It's good. It's about an hour and a half."
"It's been a blast getting to work with everybody," Keene continues. "I think Lisa and I both were shocked by the amount of people who responded 'yes,' because we didn't know how many yes's we'd get. It really goes to show that the Playhouse family in Murray, Kentucky has had a lot of good people come through. They're coming through to help us put on this show this weekend, so we're excited about it."