Last November, Trip Kennedy launched the Show Off Show at Pasadena’s swanky Rose nightclub as a Monday night open-mike session for aficionados of cabaret tunes. But when the pandemic lockdown hit in mid-March, the weekly confab had to shift to the virtual world of Zoom–losing the intimate in-person dynamic of the events, but opening the door to new performers and audience members from far and wide.
On Monday, Sept. 28, the Show Off Show will celebrate 26 weeks–a full half year–of Zoom singathons with a special event called “A Song For You.” To prep in advance, 25 or so randomly matched performers met up via phone or Zoom to get to know each other and then select song titles for the other to perform.
The goal was to create a fun challenge for the singers to learn a song they might not normally consider and present it with pizzazz. The singers enhance their performances by sporting costumes, using props, customizing backgrounds, reciting poetry, dancing or playing instruments. One even appeared with a puppet on the Zoom “stage.”
The good news about Zooming? Regular singer Teri Bond says the broadened reach across both performers and audience members has been “a silver lining.”
“When you’re presenting a Zoom performance in a pandemic, anyone can Zoom in and share the experience,” says Bond, a Pasadena resident who has been publicly singing as a hobby for the past five years. “Several of the people who participate are pro singers who’ve performed in clubs and restaurants around town.
“Some have been making music their entire lives and some are newer to singing in public, like me,” adds Bond. “It’s a meaningful gathering of music lovers, uplifting and inspirational at times, and we change it up with themes based on genres or composers, which is fun.”
Past themes have included songs from the 1920s, World War II and the 1980s, as well as comedic or torch songs.
Featured composers have included Leonard Bernstein, Randy Newman, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter and Kander & Ebb. A popular evening was a TV and movie theme night kicked off by Kennedy with the opening song from Blazing Saddles. Many sang familiar themes from TV shows from Green Acres to that Saturday morning favorite Scooby-Doo.
The group celebrated Bastille Day a day early by featuring a special guest performance by chanteuse Pamela Clay, who lived in France for many years and has performed her one-woman show, Forever Piaf!, at many venues in L.A. and New York. Regular performers have Zoomed in from as far away as Tampa, Fla., and Slovenia. Closer to home, Bond’s family watch her regularly from Laguna Beach.
Memorial Day inspired an evening dedicated to heroes, with performers paying tribute to loved ones and friends who are essential workers in healthcare, food service or the military. Another night, the group organized a fundraiser for National Bail Out to help activists arrested at Black Lives Matter protests. Another highlight was a curbside cabaret starring 94-year-old open mic devotee Julian Troup, who gave a socially-distanced performance from his front porch.
“In a world gone mad, we keep each other sane,” says Kennedy. “The ritual of gathering online every week and stretching our creative muscles by singing new songs has been incredibly therapeutic.
“We’ve managed to recreate the in-person magic through technology and build a warm, welcoming community,” he continues. “I’m especially thrilled about the enthusiasm we’ve maintained during these 26 weeks of lockdown.”
All are welcome to participate as singers or audience members at 7:30 p.m. every Monday. For information on signing up or receiving the newsletter, contact Trip Kennedy at Brooklynboyinla@gmail.com or at (323) 345-3219.