'Jingle All the Cabaret' evokes holiday TV specials of years past – LNP | LancasterOnline

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Matthew Ciuffitelli and Cadie J Bryan will perform at Penn Square Concerts’ “Jingle All the Cabaret.”
Matthew Ciuffitelli and Cadie J Bryan will perform at Penn Square Concerts’ “Jingle All the Cabaret.”
If you flipped through TV’s broadcast channels during the holiday season decades ago, you were likely to find a popular singer hosting a Christmas special.
The repertoire of classic Christmas songs that served as a set list for those specials are the foundation of a new holiday tradition for the Penn Square Music Festival.
In the third annual “Jingle All the Cabaret” Friday, Dec. 10, at the Lancaster Country Club, two professional opera singers will perform holiday classics, from “White Christmas” to “Santa Baby,” says Penn Square Music Festival Artistic Director Scott Drackley.
“This is our third year of doing (the cabaret),” Drackley says.
When the cabaret started three years ago, Drackley says, “we wanted to do something Christmasy, that wasn’t (the opera) ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors.’
“The first year, we did (the cabaret) at the Holiday Inn in Lancaster. Then, last year, during the pandemic, we recorded it in somebody’s home and we sent it out to 12 retirement communities in the area, and they all have their (in-house) TV stations and they sent it out for their residents to see.”
This year, the in-person public performance returns, Drackley says, but the evening will also be recorded and sent to the retirement communities.
“It’s always been about those wonderful songs from the Christmas specials of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s that all of us of a certain age remember watching,” Drackley says. “ And everybody had one. All these famous singers had these specials — Bing Crosby, Perry Como … Andy Williams, Judy Garland.”
The cabaret will include such tunes as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” “Silver Bells” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
Drackley will serve as emcee at the cabaret.
“I’ll give a little narration on some of the pieces that are interesting,” he says. “There are certainly (songs) you are required to perform. One of them has to be ‘White Christmas.’ There’s a wonderful, heart-wrenching story that goes along with ‘White Christmas’ that I’ll tell. … (Bing Crosby) tells a story of singing it for the troops over in Europe and looking out at all these guys who were going to go into battle the next day, and not realizing the Battle of the Bulge was coming up. … He was singing ‘White Christmas’ and could hardly get through it.”
Performing at “Jingle All the Cabaret” will be singers Cadie J. Bryan and Matthew Ciuffitelli.
“They’re both wonderful performers,” Drackley says.
A Louisiana native, Bryan has performed leading and supporting roles at Arizona Opera and Des Moines Metro Opera, in such operas as “La Boheme,” “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Riders of the Purple Sage,” “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird” and “La Traviata.” She was in the cast of an Emmy Award-winning production of “Rusalka.”
Ciuffitelli has performed in operas including “Don Pasquale,” “The Magic Flute,” “Faust,” “Tosca,” “Madama Butterfly” and “Die Fledermaus,” with such companies as Amore Opera, Eastern Opera, Sarasota Opera, St. Petersburg Opera and Light Opera of New Jersey. He performed in Broadway’s 10th anniversary concert of “A Tale of Two Cities,” tours internationally with the Sharpe Family Singers, performed with the Rolling Stones in Chicago and appeared in the U.S. premiere of “Mountain Top” by Dutch composer Jacob Ter Veldhuis.
Zachary Smith, who has been musical director for many productions, mostly at the Ephrata Performing Arts Center, will be the pianist for the evening.
“There’s no pressure of holiday stress” at the cabaret, Drackley says. “People can just relax and enjoy the music. … We’ll do (an audience) sing-along, and do some Christmas carols, and it’s just a happy evening, watching two absolutely wonderful professionals perform.
“It’s a fun evening … we have a cash bar and we have complimentary hors d’oeuvres and then they listen to the concert,” he says. “We’re going to have a silent auction (of) gift baskets, some artwork, all sorts of stuff, and we’re going to have a raffle of two tickets to (OperaLancaster’s) March performance of ‘Scalia/Ginsberg.’”
So, it’s nostalgia and it’s fun and we have a sing-along that goes along with it, so people can get in the spirit of the season,” he adds. “There is nothing wrong with nostalgia.
“And I’ll keep doing this every single year,” Drackley says. “It’s our version of ‘The Nutcracker.’ ”
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What: “Jingle All the Cabaret,” a holiday presentation by Penn Square Music Festival.
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10.
Where: Lancaster Country Club, 1466 New Holland Pike.
Tickets: $30, available online at lanc.news/JingleCabaret21 and at the door.
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