CHRISTMAS IN JUNE WITH STRICTLY BUSINESS
Dynamic cabaret duo will get you in the holiday spirit
By Jessica Ryan
Attendees at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre launch will not only be the first to find out what exciting events are coming to Camrose next season, but will also be treated to a free performance by Edmonton-based Strictly Business Theatre, the cabaret pairing of musical theatre adepts Kelsey Visscher and Kayla Nickel.
Visscher took some time to describe what Strictly Business is all about and hint at what is in store for theatregoers on June 20 (answers have been edited for length):
What does a Strictly Business performance entail?
For us, cabaret is a series of songs, sometimes some dancing, and we tie it together with stories, jokes and fun facts about us. We like to share as much as we can with the audience about us as people and performers. It’s a fun, casual night. We really like to get people out who don’t usually go to live performances.
How did it all come about?
(Five or six years ago) we had just graduated from Grant MacEwan university’s theatre arts program, and we wanted to further our studies in New York. So we decided, since New York is so stinking expensive, that we should put on a cabaret as a fundraiser. People kept asking when our next one was, so we decided to do some more, and here we are!
Are there things you learned while studying in New York that you incorporate into your shows?
For sure. General acting tips, our different voice teachers would help us with performing different styles and people there recommended songs that made it into shows. Seeing different shows definitely inspired us to do a few different little bits or different songs. We did get the chance to see a more cabaret-style show at a really famous cabaret venue there, so that was cool, just to see how that happens in a big city like New York and how we can bring that back here.
What do you hope your audiences experience at your shows?
We hope they get to know us a little bit. And a lot of times theatre is seen as a very hoity-toity type thing, so we want to make it more casual again, make it fun. If we can make them feel things — whether it be happy, sad, make them maybe learn something new about a situation — and just have a good time, go home and enjoy the people they were with, enjoy what they saw, enjoy what they drank and ate, then we’re happy.
What do you have planned for the performance in Camrose?
We’re hoping to make people laugh. A really big thing we have learned at our Christmas shows is people tell us that’s what gets them in the Christmas spirit, so I think that’s definitely started to inform the songs we choose to do and how we decide to do them. I guess our No. 1 goal is to entertain people, No. 2: get people in the Christmas spirit and just have a good time.
What are some of your all-time favourite songs to sing?
We always, at Christmas, like to do an Elvis tribute. We have a couple classic Christmas songs; The Christmas Song is one of our favourites. We’re really big fans of the Andrews Sisters and that era, so we have a couple of those that are some of our favourites to perform. They’re hard work, but they’re so worth it once you get them.
See Strictly Business showcase their cabaret at the Lougheed Centre’s Season Launch on Thursday, June 20th. This is a free event and no tickets are needed to attend. Come early (6pm) if you would like a facility tour. For more information, call the box office at 780.608.2922