For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.
Hello, beautiful backers of the Junkyard Theater Straight-Up Cabaret Project!
I just wanted to let you know that just last night we finished our two-show run of "Don't rain on my panda bear!"
What a great experience this has been, and it feels like just the beginning.
For me, a significant aspect of this experience has been incorporating Mistress Ginger and myself into the same show. I performed the first part of the show as myself, transformed into Ginger for a few songs, and then went back to myself for the last part of the show.
Performing in a cabaret show as myself, I felt like I was suddenly working in a whole new medium, different from what I create when I am performing solely as Ginger. The experience taught me a lot about these different ways of performing, simply as myself or with the more presentational character bent. Combining these approaches in one show was especially tricky, but one that proved fruitful beyond what I could imagine.
People loved seeing the transformation. The return to myself following Ginger's set is an especially palpable moment of fresh, open vulnerability. It felt earned, like it required all that came before it. I could feel it, and I think the audience could feel it too. The space was electric in that moment, and then to sing from that place or to hear a song in that space was very powerful.
Another delightful aspect of this show was that, quite often, I was able to just to sit and sing. I danced a little here and there, but really focused on the songs, many of which I discovered at the Cabaret Conference last summer. I have often felt compelled to choreograph a movement for every moment, but with this production I gave myself permission to stay still and let the songs tell the story.
I sang Amanda McBroom's "Wheels" as a duet with my voice teacher Rachel Holder. It worked beautifully. Having Rachel join me for that song and for my comical version of "Money, Money" added warmth and variety to the show.
Also, working with George Maurer as musical director was a great thrill. I felt honored to be singing alongside such an accomplished musician. Our energies mesh well and allowed for an exciting onstage chemistry.
And Jim Domenick as the dancing panda bear added a valuable dimension to the show: sweet, mysterious, and vibrant. Jim has been a great support throughout the creative process, always bringing a supremely generous spirit and positive energy to mix.
I offer my most sincere thanks to all of you for your tremendous support of this project. It has been a successful endeavor and has left me with much that I will continue to explore. Your rewards for your contributions will be coming to you in the weeks and months that follow!
Here is a link to an album of photographs taken at our dress rehearsal. From this array of images, you can really get a sense of the scope of the show. Enjoy!
Love, LIGHT, and peace,
Ginger and I are very excited about tonight's opening. We hope you will join us for this very special show.
And I've got some very exciting news to share! Caroline Palmer wrote a wonderful promo spot that can be found in the Star Tribune today:
Friday-Saturday: Justin Leaf is a longtime member of Minnesota Dance Theatre who pines for the cabaret stage, which led him to a 2007 Sage award for "Broadway Bound ... and Gagged." With his Junkyard Theater, Leaf has given the world the divine Mistress Ginger. This weekend Leaf plans a new direction in his show "Don't Rain on My Panda Bear!" He'll be singing tunes from Kurt Weill, Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, Blossom Dearie and more, accompanied by ace jazz pianist George Maurer and, yes, a dancing panda. Expect Ginger to crash the show.
Thanks again to all of you for your support in making this show a reality. I hope that if you live in the Twin Cities area, you'll join us for this magical Junkyard tour of all things money and all things dreams.
For more info about the show, go to www.junkyardtheater.com.
LOVE, light, and Peace,