A ghost light is a single light bulb left burning on stage whenever a theater is dark.
It is there for safety, but tradition has it that the ghost light keeps burning to keep the theater happy and healthy.
Thus, Civic Theatre officials figure a “Ghost Light Cabaret” is a perfect fundraiser to help keep all its lights burning brightly.
There will be two performances of “Ghost Light Cabaret” at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at Feinstein’s Cabaret at the Hotel Carmichael in Carmel. The performances will include highlights of Civic’s previous seasons since moving in 2011 to the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel
“We’ll have some of our most well-known performers doing some highlight numbers that people know from those shows,” Civic Theatre Executive Artistic Director Michael J. Lasley said.
The first “Ghost Light Cabaret” was a virtual presentation from The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts, serving as a fundraiser in October 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was successful from a virtual standpoint, and we tried to figure out the best way to do it in person, but we got the idea to work with Feinstein’s,” Lasley said. “They’ve been great at working with us on timing.”
Lasley said it’s a different format from the regular productions.
“We’ve done the same format in our virtual shows (as) in 2020 and 2021,” Lasley said. “This is our first time trying to do it live. I think it will be a fun thing for our performers and our patrons. It’s a different style and presentation than they are used to seeing.”
There was only one previous presentation of “Ghost Light Cabaret.” Civic Theatre held “Holiday Lights,” which was a similar format, in December 2020. In the spring of 2021, Civic Theatre presented “Light on the Horizon,” which had limited in-person seating with a virtual option.
Lasley said there is an opening and closing number where everyone is on stage.
“But it’s a pretty small stage, so there’s not a lot of room for staging or choreography,” Lasley said. “There will be solo performers and duets with maybe two to three people backing them.”
Lasley said 30 Junior Civic company performers will perform, with half doing the first show and the other half doing the second show.
“Right now, we have 14 songs that we have cherry picked from our shows,” Lasley said. “We will talk about other shows in between. We have a tried-and-true format we’ve always done. Cabaret allows us to put some twists on things. Some of these pieces will be almost like you saw them in the shows, and some we will sort of mix it up a little bit. Some will be a little more imaginative since it’s a small space where you can do all the flashy dance and scenery.”
Most of the Civic shows are in The Tarkington, which seats 500.
“This will be a more intimate, close-up view of these performers and the performance itself,” Lasley said. “It’s our hope this will be successful, and it will be an annual fundraiser for us, and we’ll work with Feinstein’s to find a similar date each year. We’ll work to find different themes. We might try a particular musical genre, or we might try a particular composer musical.”
There is seating for 110 at each performance at Feinstein’s.
Lasley said there will be five or six karaoke standards. The highest bidder will get to choose the song and perform it live on stage. The list includes “Sweet Caroline,” “Tomorrow,” “Summer Nights,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Do-Re-Mi” and “Dancing Queen.”
“This is a new idea and I hope it works,” Lasley said.
The karaoke session will be led by Brent E. Marty, Civic Theatre’s director of music and education
“We loosely refer to this as ‘Marty-oke’ as opposed to karaoke,” Lasley said. “It’s come from a lot of times Brent will go to the theater after-party and he’ll have a box of music where people can pick things out and he’ll play and sing.”
There will be a wine pull and a gift card pull.
For more, visit civictheatre.org.