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2012 Fort Salem Cabaret Series
The first space to open in July, 2007, under our renovation plan was the Cabaret at Fort Salem Theater, a little jewel box that hosts musical performances, designed by David Pedemonti to reflect the Mainstage in miniature. Lawrence Hillis in The Eagle described the atmosphere as "the meeting of old friends" with "the beauty of a romantic candle lit dinner." The room features a recessed 8' by 6' stage with state-of-the-art lighting and sound, an antique six foot Knabe Grand Piano in Brazilian rosewood, up to sixteen cabaret tables, and chairs that match the walls of burgundy and gold.
We call him "Broadway's Bill Carmichael" because for thirty years, this Broadway vet created memorable roles starting with the original version of Forbidden Broadway in 1982 in a career that spanned stints in Cathy Rigby's Peter Pan, Les Miserables, and Ragtime, until Bill was featured in the original cast of Mamma Mia! Recently retiring to a second career with his dancer/wife Susan Burk as proprietors of The Emerson House, a bed-and-breakfast in Vergennes, Vermont, Bill has given us three memorable Fort Salem cabarets, including his tuneful tribute to Richard Rodgers two years ago. This summer, he co-starred in Significant Others, finally succumbing to our pleas to act and sing on the Mainstage.

Just in time to offer food for thought to undecided voters, Bill brings us a brand-new salute to the political and social messages contained in the music and lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin. The brothers' satirical musical, Of Thee I Sing, written with George S. Kaufman, was the first musical ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The plot poked fun at politicians, political conventions, and political platforms. Hmmm. Chances are these songs will be welcome relief from the bi-partisan drivel of the ongoing presidential campaign. Vote for Carmichael and Gershwin this November!
Lynne Kerr began her professional singing career while still in college, appearing on the Uncle Floyd Show, a staple on NYC metropolitan area cable TV. She recalls her family watching the taped show in stunned silence, unable to think of anything to say following the broadcast. That encouraged her to put the singing on hold until, twelve years later, now working in Manhattan, she decided to take Big City singing lessons to fill a void in her newly single life following a short first marriage. "It's a cinch to teach someone who already can sing," confesses her teacher and the Fort's Artistic Director, Jay Kerr. The lessons were so successful, the two got married.

Lynne's last foray onto the Fort stage was at her CD Release Party two years ago. This selection of recorded songs, around which book writer Al Budde crafted the tale of a Mississippi riverboat taking its final voyage, spawned 2011's Mainstage hit, Senior Moments. In More Songs, Lynne sings some songs written especially for Senior Moments, melodies from Significant Others, plus material new even to veterans of every Fort Salem show ever produced. And a few old favorites.
Jerry Gretzinger was a face familiar to Salem audiences long before he set foot on the Fort's cabaret stage in fall of 2009, as part of the now legendary Singing Anchors, a trio in which he shares billing with Jessica Layton and Benita Zahn. Co-anchor, with Liz Bishop, of CBS6's five o'clock news broadcast, he has entertained Capital Region audiences in countless theatrical productions, and mounted a very successful outing of Forever Plaid for the Fort's 2010 Mainstage season. His tribute to Sinatra, Mostly Frank, originated two years ago for a fall cabaret, went on to be arranged for a seven-piece swing band and broadcast on WAMC. The show and the band returned to our Mainstage last spring, selling even more tickets than the original.

In discussing potential new show ideas while rehearsing Sinatra last spring, Jerry confessed that he had a special unrequited love for the "cheesy" songs of the eighties. Thus, the new show was born. With so many classic performances to choose from, from Wham, Bon Jovi, Depeche Mode, Psychedelic Furs, Split Enz and Simple Minds, one can forget that the decade also offered iconic songs from Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, George Michael, and even Frank Sinatra. Rest assured, Jerry has not forgotten, and promises a roster of tunes that will either take you back to simpler times, or introduce you to some well-cured but obscure cheese to make you wish you'd paid better attention back in the day.
Celebrating seven years of farm life in Hebron, one of the area's most talented families returns to our cabaret after too long an absence, with one more child, two high school seniors, and a universally beautiful family. At the helm of the real-life family, all of whom portrayed the Crachits in our 2007 Mainstage production of A Christmas Carol, Kimerer LaMothe, former Harvard lecturer, is a philosopher and dancer who writes books and teaches dance residencies; Geoffrey Gee is a composer and soundware designer who teaches instrumental music at Long Trail School in Dorset, Vermont, and serves as organist for the South Granville Congregational Church. Their children, Jordan (17), Jessica (15), Kyra (11), Kai (7), and Leif (3), are farmers; each and all talented, they are the newly-dubbed Farm Family Players.

Abandoning the cows and chickens for a cabaret evening, the family takes the Thanksgiving weekend to express their gratitude for the parents' twenty years of married life and their son Jordan's successful brain surgery this summer. As the Farm Family Players, Kimerer, Geoff and their five children offer a feast of performing arts, serving up a diverse menu including vocal harmonies, solo ballads, and instrumental music featuring piano, saxophone, and flute, all seasoned with a touch of dance.


Benita Zahn, anchor and health reporter for NewsChannel 13, performed in the first season of Fort Salem’s cabaret in the summer of 2007, and has graced one or both of the Fort’s stages every season since. In the fall of 2009, she brought along Channel 13 colleague, Jessica Layton, and their Channel 6 friend, Jerry Gretzinger. Their Fort Salem Theater presents The Singing Anchors has not only consistently filled the cabaret and Mainstage in Salem, but venues throughout the Capital Region, including shows at the Linda Norris Auditorium in Albany, broadcast on WAMC, a recent concert at the Clifton Park-Half Moon Public Library, and a stint headlining at Saratoga’s First Night in 2011. To which we now add a traditional holiday show.

Traditions die hard and appear quickly. Last year, at the behest of Jessica Layton, the anchors abandoned their repertoire of Broadway and Hollywood standards to give their particular twist to the most wonderful time of the year (a song they don't sing in their show). Looking as shiny and colorful as a decorated Christmas tree, The Singing Anchors bring their special talents to the warm holiday classics, sharing the sounds of the season with people of deep religious faith or none at all. It's a family-friendly romp through a musical winter wonderland (they do sing that one).
Coffee and Dessert Included*
*$19 Music Charge/$6 Dessert Charge, Tax Included
Fort Salem Theater
© 2009