The Cabaret at the Columbia Club is an evening of food, music and laughter in an elegant setting that will leave you wishing the event lasted longer than its hour-ish run time.
The recent performance of the Indy Men’s Chorus at the downtown Indianapolis venue was a treat for this first-time cabaret attendee, even having seen the group perform in the past.
The show kicked off with the lighthearted “I Am What I Am,” the unapologetic theme from the Broadway musical, “La Cage Aux Folles.”
The spirited number began with a quiet solo and then grew to include the entire ensemble, which stood among the audience for a dramatic surround-sound effect. The song, a celebration of self-acceptance, is apropos for a group that prides itself on embracing members of all kinds — gay, straight or somewhere in between.
The political and cultural landscape was very different when the Indy Men’s Chorus got its start 25 years ago. At one of its first performances, the group was booed by an Indianapolis crowd.
At the cabaret, the group’s intricate harmonies and charismatic stage presence were met by cheers, and rightfully so. For a group of volunteer singers, it’s clear many of them could do this for a living.
The group performs mostly choral literature throughout the year, but for the cabaret’s more intimate venue — the Columbia Club’s third-floor crystal terrace — about a third of the 60-member group entertained. This allowed for individual members to show off some big talent and even bigger personalities.
The space proves a treat for the audience as well; there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
The ensemble transitioned flawlessly from the sophisticated melodies of Sondheim to the bawdy tunes of Avenue Q (yes, “The Internet is for Porn” made the cut).
Alex Reuter brought audience members to their feet with the raw power of his rendition of “Being Alive,” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.” Reuter struck just the right balance of strength and vulnerability in what was, no doubt, the evening’s most powerful performance.
Seeing the Indy Men’s Chorus in concert is always a treat, and the Columbia Club proved the perfect venue to feel part of a vibrant performance from entertainers who never take themselves too seriously but always deliver.
The cabaret welcomes talents from across the country to its stage. Ticket information and a full lineup up upcoming shows can be found at thecabaret.org.