Becky Owens, from Saratoga, enjoys performing in local theater. Earlier this year, after shelter-in-place was announced and theaters began canceling shows, Owens started a Facebook group called Quarantined Cabaret Live. Performers have been broadcasting their act with their phone or computer from their homes.
The group allows singers and other performing artists to perform in a live online show on Friday evenings. Youth shows take place on select Saturdays. Performers who want to be in the show must request a slot in the lineup. All performances must be live.
“I want to give people a place to practice their craft and their art and to create a little bit of joy during these times,” Owens said. “I can’t tell you how many performers have written me afterward to tell me what a wonderful experience it was for me to offer this because they have stopped singing, dancing or performing, and how nice it is to have an audience to get them started again.
“We currently have 2,147 members in the group,” Owens continued. “So far, we have about 143 people who have performed with the Quarantined Cabaret Live, and that includes the Santa Clara University students [that I hosted a singing recital for] and our youth performers. We’ve also hosted several youth cabaret events.”
Each week, there is a theme that performers should adhere to for the Friday evening show. The day before, a Quarantined Cabaret Live performer releases an ad with a song. Themes that Quarantined Cabaret Live has done include Disney, Jazz, Artist’s Choice, Tony Award Winners, and Gender/Typecast Bent. On July 3, the theme was the Great American Songbook.
On that evening, Corey Liggans Miller, from Campbell, sang “That Old Black Magic,” a jazz standard performed by Sammy Davis Jr. Recently, Miller released an ad for the group’s Jazz Week.
“When I did this ad, it was a few days after George Floyd’s murder so I sang ‘Make Them Hear You,’ from ‘Ragtime,’” Miller said. “‘Ragtime’ is a musical about racial injustice and racial inequities. In this song, the man is talking about the life he wants to build for his baby son who was just born, and how people can make the world better for the children when people stand up for what is right.”
On July 2, Susan Tonkin, from Pleasanton, announced the week’s theme of the Great American Songbook in an ad by singing “I’ve Got A Crush On You,” composed by George and Ira Gershwin. In this group, Tonkin has also sung a duet with her daughter, Audrey, 11, titled “Put You In Your Place” from ‘The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.’”
“My daughter loves sharing comments with the performers,” Tonkin said of Quarantined Cabaret Live. “You have that shared audience experience and it’s different than sitting at home and watching TV.”
Owens has been running Quarantined Cabaret Live since March 27 with the assistance of group administrators Miller, Dave Leon, Nick Patton, Jamie Gussman, Tressa Bender, Gregory Moring and Melissa Gialdini.