By Lola Lauri
Cabaret ’35 began at 7 pm on August 10th at “Club Emerald” (formerly known as the Community Center). Its creators worked all day to create the illusion of a nightclub from the 1930’s, and their attention to detail showed. Guests entered past the old time ticket booth, which was graced with a large sign declaring this performance “Sold Out”. The dining room was elegant, with black tablecloths topped with mirrors and lovely white candle lamps. A glance out the window, showed a dark city skyline with a bright crescent moon above. A peek over the fireplace afforded a view of the “band”, in its art deco orchestra pit. In front, to the left, a large lighted sign dotted with fireflies declared that this was Club Emerald in elegant script and, to the right, a dazzling
tinsel curtain covered the hallway exit. In the center, an art deco patterned curtained served as a backdrop for the stage where the performance was soon to begin.
As the stylishly dressed guests filed in, greeting friends and neighbors, anticipation for the show began to build. The staff hurried to seat and take orders from the more than 70
Hosts for the evening, Buz Whelan and Lola Lauri
guests in attendance. Overwhelmed by the initial rush of patrons, they struggled to get drinks and food to everyone but, by 8:15, most were enjoying their drinks and settling in for the entertainment.
Chef Todd had a superb menu for this evening, with an assortment of small plates, designed for sharing. Shrimp cocktail, a classic from the era, was a popular selection, along with the crab stuffed mushrooms and the potato
Photo op, anyone?
blintzes smothered in a caramelized onion crème. The London broil salad in balsamic vinaigrette and the fried calamari with marinara sauce for dipping were both tasty and delicious too. There was also a special cocktail menu for those who wished to sample drinks that were typical fare in 1935. Peach Bellinis and Mint Juleps were refreshing choices for several guests.
Before the show, guests were directed to the giant crescent moon in the corner for a photo opportunity. With
Our photographer for the evening, Robert Lauri, with Elizabeth
legs draped across the moon, guests cuddled and smiled for the camera, then left their contact information so they could have a digital keepsake of this fun event. Bob Lauri was our eager photographer, and he captured many memories of the evening, including the ones pictured here in this article. (Thanks, Honey!)
When it was time for the show to begin, Buz Whelan introduced the performer for the evening, Elizabeth Knecht. Buz and I met Elizabeth last year when she performed at The Speakeasy Lounge (see here, for a review of that evening)
Mario and Melanie Balzano
and we were both extremely excited to bring her to Emerald Lakes. Elizabeth took to the stage with a black and gold sequined dress and a short black flapper hairdo. She set the mood by singing “Cabaret” and then launched into her rendition of “All That Jazz” while actively recruiting audience members to sing and dance along with her. Resident Melanie Balzano took no time at all to decide that she was going to be in the act, as she enthusiastically leapt to the dance floor. Elizabeth also brought along her young niece, Ashley, who lent her dancing skills to the festivities throughout the night. Soon enough, many of the other guests took turns dancing
Ashley, a rising star, and Elizabeth
and singing as well. But it was Elizabeth that caught everyone’s heart with her powerful and heartbreaking version of “Memories”. The standing ovation that followed showed just how much the audience was captured by her performance.
After a brief intermission Buz introduced “Liz K” – Elizabeth, but with a black lace dress and a blond curly hairdo. She continued to wow the crowd with selections
Second set, quick costume change.
that alternated from romantic to rousing, keeping toes tapping, hands clapping and the dance floor full. All too soon, the last song was upon us and she closed the evening with “The Best of Times is Now” (from La Cage Aux Folles).
He looks happy.
Everyone rose to their feet, clapping and singing along as Elizabeth took her leave from the stage.
The only piece of business left was for us to announce the winners of the
best dressed couple prizes. We awarded Melanie Balzano second place because, even though her husband Mario did not dress in costume, Melanie had enough spirit and costume for two. With gangster-style pinstripes and flapper
Alex and Gini Leslie – Best Dressed
fun (and a boa that shed feathers in its wake!) first place
Second place for best dressed, Melanie Balzano, on stage with Elizabeth Knecht
went to Emerald Lakes President Alex Leslie and his wife, Gini.
Finally, it takes a lot to bring a night like this together, and Buz and I are very thankful for all the folks who helped us. The ELA staff was wonderful – especially Todd, Heather and Jackie; even our Public Safety officers helped out when the servers fell behind! In fact, Heather and Jackie spent the whole week leading up to the show working on ways to make this event special. They designed costumes and makeup for the servers; they spent hours creating
On their feet for Elizabeth Knecht.
and setting up the lovely table centerpieces and the old time ticket booth for the entrance to the Community Center; and they put their creative skills to work all day Saturday designing and painting the lighted “Club Emerald” sign for the stage area, all before helping the rest of us decorate and set up the room for the evening. These two gave a very special effort for Cabaret ’35 and we could not have pulled the evening together nearly so well without their creativity and talent. We also want to thank Stefania, Darren, Kathy, Shari, and Meredith, who gave the afternoon to help with decorations and, of course, we can’t forget the Lovely Elizabeth Knecht. In spite of the troubles, disagreements and difficulties of our community and of the present time, it is when we all come together to celebrate that we can remember that the Best of Times really is now. Buz and I truly enjoyed bringing this party to the community and hope you all will support us in the future.