The romance of Cabaret

From left, KT Sullivan, Eric Yves Garcia, Natalie Douglas and Carole J. Bufford at Saturday’s performance.

On Saturday evening, just a few days before Valentine’s Day, the Cayman Arts Festival hosted some of New York’s finest cabaret singers to perform “Isn’t It Romantic?” at the Marriott Beach Resort.

Accompanied by Jon Weber on the piano, KT Sullivan, Natalie Douglas, Carole J. Bufford, and Eric Yves Garcia sang love songs from the Great American Songbook, including Shirley Bassey’s “Never, Never, Never,” Ella Fitzgerald’s “Moonlight Becomes You,” and Bing Crosby’s “On A Slow Boat To China.”

In collaboration with the event sponsors, Butterfield Bank and Island Heritage, Robert Loverd and Christel Ibsen, who spend their time between New York and Grand Cayman, arranged for the singers to perform as part of the 2018 Cayman Arts Festival.

Marius Gaina, the festival’s executive director, and Glen Inanga, festival co-founder and artistic director, worked together to bring the evening to the Marriott.

Ms. Sullivan had stated before the evening that she was excited to perform with the other artists. “This Saturday is a unique opportunity, not just for those who will attend the event, but for us as well because we rarely get to perform altogether in such a different environment,” she said.

Ms. Sullivan is the artistic director of The Mabel Mercer Foundation, an organization set up in 1985 to preserve the memory and work of its legendary cabaret performer namesake.

Cabaret is known for its jazz-infused style of musical entertainment, which differs from its theatrical counterparts. As Mr. Garcia put it, “Cabaret is more intimate. There is no ‘fourth wall’ that divides the audience from the actors. A cabaret is much like a monologue in the sense that you tell a subtle and layered story through your performance.”

On the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 9, Ms. Douglas and Ms. Sullivan attended St. Ignatius Catholic School to host a Master Class, during which pupils from various schools were given the opportunity to sing.

As part of their participation in the Cayman Arts Festival, performers are asked to host a Master Class at one of the schools where they can listen and see pupils perform and give them advice and pointers.

Of the many pupils who performed that Friday, Ms. Douglas was “blown away” by the performance of Jaedyn Hanna, a 16-year-old pupil at Cayman Prep and High School, who sang “Someone Like You” by Linda Eder from the “Jekyll and Hyde” musical. Jaedyn, who is also a member of the Cayman Youth Choir, was subsequently invited to perform on Saturday evening to the 450 people at the Marriott alongside the cabaret singers, and was rewarded by a standing ovation of the performance. Jaedyn was a finalist of the Butterfield Young Musician of the Year award in 2016.

“Find the music that impassions you,” said Mr. Garcia, when asked what his advice would be to those wanting to pursue a career in singing, “If you make it yours, it will be true. Find the songs that tell your story.”

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